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[PFRPG] The Haunting of Soldragon Academy
Publisher: Headless Hydra Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/28/2011 11:10:52
If the plot of The Haunting of Soldragon Academy sounds familiar. It is because you are summoning up memories of many a morning in front of the television watching Scooby Doo Marathons. Though the plot follows a familiar formula, the adventure has a lively enough cask to almost reach a Supernatural episode.

Soldragon is a 26 page adventure that involves the PCs making a trip to a haunted academy. A ghost may be causing mayhem to the students and it is up to the PCs to solve the mystery before all the students leave. Mysteries are fairly hard to craft in Pathfinder, and the writer does a somewhat decent job in setting some initial stages, particularly finding out who the ghost is. Helpful sidebars and additional information in the Appendix go a long way to making the adventure easy to run. Despite using a haunting, the writer oddly did not attempt to use Pathfinder’s Haunts.

Soldragon feels like it needs a tad more punch, which is nothing that an experienced dungeon master can’t fix with a couple of well placed haunts. Where Souldragon shines is it’s character development. The kids are written well and contain the kind of dialogue to make your party members question child murder laws in a dungeons and dragons setting.

For the Dungeon Master
Despite some action short comings, the structure of Soldragon is crafted well. The encounters are thought out and well statted for the party level.

The Iron Word
The Haunting of Soldragon Academy is a good adventure for a party looking for a slight break after an intense story arc. The mystery would have worked better if played out more, but the role playing for the characters makes up for its brevity.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] The Haunting of Soldragon Academy
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The Breaking of Forstor Nagar (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/28/2011 10:43:20
It takes a special kind of mind to write The Breaking of Forstar Nagar.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ben McFarland at Gencon a few years ago. At the time, he had written was very adapt at crafting 3rd edition rules that enhanced gameplay, and I asked him if he was looking forward to Pathfinder. He was excited about the system, but was more interested in a critically acclaimed but not as popular system called Ars Magica. Working with a system like Ars Magica, a game designed where each player runs a trio of players, pushes a designer to create new methods of adventure design.

That push has paid off for McFarland with The Breaking of Forstar Nagar, an action congested 8th level pathfinder adventure that plays out like a perfectly directed action movie.
Forstar Nagar begins with the PCs having to break into a city of immense Ice and through a siege by a deadly group of cannibals called the Hungering Legion. They must break their way through several well designed, tactical combats into the heart of the city, rescue the survivors and decipher an escape plan.

What McFarland does that is impressive, is press home how deadly the bad guys are. Sure, their stat blocks are well written and complete with tactics. However, it is the intense description and reasoning included that allow the dungeon master the knowledge of how to play these characters correctly. McFarland also includes layers of backstory to every element of the adventure. By using a layered effect, Dungeon Masters have the option of blending in their own campaign elements or adding the writer’s preset layer.

To compliment the 48 pages of intense adventuring, detailed maps by one of the best in the business, Jonathan Roberts, highlights every encounter. Terrain elements and strategy is emphasized with every pen stroke. The artwork and layout are impressive, except for the decision to layer a blue background under black writing.

For the Dungeon Master
The adventure is very site based, meaning that PCs may venture into areas not in the order presented in the book. There are instructions and sidebars listed to handle most situations.

The Iron Word
The Breaking of Forstar is a very different kind of adventure that will be an action filled rump for any party. This adventure has something for everyone. As an added bonus, the adventure includes maptools files to run the game in the best online gaming tool on the market.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Breaking of Forstor Nagar (PFRPG)
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Way of the Yakuza (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 14:55:49
Iron Nugget

I love that Rite Publishing is not just rehashing Oriental Rules supplements, but actually designing an engrossing world set behind Japanese mythology. Way of the Yakuza is a sourcebook to allow you to either construct or run Yakuza in your Kaiden campaign or transfer the gang into your current campaign. The Old Japanese feel of the layout goes a long way to helping the reader understand how different the ways of the Yakuza are.

The 36 page PDF includes traits and feats to bring the Yakuza to life. However, the most creative features are the enchanting of tattoos and the base class archetypes that give DMs and Players the chance to Yakuza up their characters and NPCs without a major overhaul.

The Iron Word
The authors of the Kaiden campaign world are producing a fantastic mythology that blends Asian culture with the D&D realm. The Yakuza come off as violent individuals with a stern code of honor.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Way of the Yakuza (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Nathan thanks for taking the time to do a review of our product, Steve Russell Rite Publishing
BP-4 Sands of Despair Pathfinder RPG
Publisher: Blackbyrne Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 14:46:56
A few months ago, I ran the first part of Blackbyrne’s Dark Veil campaign. The editing and descriptions were very well done and the ideas behind the adventures were cool and creative. Sands of Despair, the follow up campaign, is an expanded effort. It succeeds and fails exactly where the previous editions of the series do.

Sands of Despair is an Indiana Jones style campaign which embarks the PCs on a journey to recover the Artifacts of Dalacore in the Sands of Despair. The first part of the adventure has a linear structure and the second half of the 95-page adventure opens up a semi sandbox game where the players go back and forth through time. The last part brings the PCs back to the present time to recover one of the artifacts.

This is one of those adventures that has a ton of great concepts, but will need to be heavily adapted for any campaign. There aren’t too many series that makes me feel that I, the DM, is being railroaded. A problem with most of the series, this is very evident in time travel scenes where the PCs are locked events that are set places in time. The idea of going back in time to be apart of the battles is great, but the writer missed a great opportunity to incorporate the actual PCs impact on the history.

For the Dungeon Master
You got to love any adventure that combines worthy ideas with detailed maps.

The Iron Word
Sands of Despair churns some strong imagery in its descriptions and has a ton of great ideas. The adventure does need to be injected with a few puzzles and a tactical combat or two.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BP-4 Sands of Despair Pathfinder RPG
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Publisher Reply:
Hey Nathan, Thanks for the review! I try and read every review and take something away from the comments to enhance the next adventure. One point (VERY small) that I'd like to make is; it's the Artifacts of Daggeroth the players are trying to find over the course of the Campaign Arc. On the point of the impact the players make on history, I must admit that I am a giant Star Trek fan and the Temporal Prime Directive has been drilled into my head, lol. All kidding aside, my intention was to actually not let the players make an impact on the past, however gain a firm grasp on the importance in their future, I will work to make that more clear in my future writing. Thanks again!! Jeff Gupton
How BAD is it?
Publisher: Library of Ancient Scroll
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 14:27:07
Iron Nugget

Not that bad for just over a book, but expect to do a bit of work with this one. How BAD is it is Library of Ancient Scroll's freshmen product. It is 7 pages of spell mishaps for those critical failures where the arcane is involved.

With so many flub charts running rampant on the internet, How Bad is it, succeeds at at settling on a niche, spell failure, and providing the beginnings of a chart for mishaps. Balancing is needed for many of the options. Also a bit of player testing would have eliminated some of the choices. For instance, I do like the idea of hiccuping for one round, but can't see how you can compare that penalty to blindness.

The Iron Word
The key to making this book work for you is to scrap the author's category system, rearrange the choices, eliminate the crazy ones and create a 1d6 chart of your own.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
How BAD is it?
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Publisher Reply:
Thank You for Your review. It is very important for us, to recive feedback. We want to release better and better products.
ZEITGEIST #2: The Dying Skyseer (4E)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 14:14:31
Mysteries are very hard to write in the D&D World. The system is not built for them. Adventure writers are too often trained to write towards the big battle. Publishers gear toward making more linear adventures to keep the page counts down. When they are attempted, rarely do they come off as a true mystery. I have run a few in my gaming background, and many times, my players tone out of the forced clues at locations or become bored by the lack of action. The Dying Skyseer, by Enworld Publishing, crushes the stereotype of the dull point to point D&D adventure and infuses a meaty mystery with enough role-playing, intrigue and action to satisfy an entire party.

What makes the 95-page Dying Skyseer so good is its sandbox approach to the mystery. Someone is dead, and the group must figure out who did it and why. There are a half dozen leads and avenues the party can investigate. Some will lead to the overall mystery, others are isolated sidequests that loosely link to the mystery. The writers never let the reader get lost. Some leads entangle sidequests, and the writer always includes several different scenarios that are broad enough to provide help for any situation that arises.

The layout is spectacular. Artwork that perfectly crosses fantasy with the industrial age. Vivid structuring and a sidebar answer every DM question. If you need to know what player traits do what, there’s a sidebar for that. If you need to know which NPCs do you have to keep alive, there’s a sidebar for that. Because this is EnWorld Publishing, if there’s something that is not answered the book, you can drop a message on the forum and the actual writer, Ryan Nock, will answer it, no matter what type of dumbfounded craziness occurs. There is no publisher that gives this level of customer service.

For the Dungeon Master
The effort put into the handouts is remarkable. Players will enjoy the city map and the extremely comprehensive bail certificate. It is the little touches like that that fulfill player immersion.

The Iron Word
I am approaching my last night of the adventure with my group, after 5 entertaining sessions and my party has not been this excited to participate in a climax in a long time. The adventure is spaciously designed to allow a group to be themselves, and tight enough where the party never feels lost and the dungeon master never needs to railroad. I fear reading the next installment of the Zeitgeist Campaign, as I am hard pressed to believe that anything will be able to top the level of detail and writing in this one.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #2: The Dying Skyseer (4E)
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ZEITGEIST #2: The Dying Skyseer (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2011 14:14:12
Mysteries are very hard to write in the D&D World. The system is not built for them. Adventure writers are too often trained to write towards the big battle. Publishers gear toward making more linear adventures to keep the page counts down. When they are attempted, rarely do they come off as a true mystery. I have run a few in my gaming background, and many times, my players tone out of the forced clues at locations or become bored by the lack of action. The Dying Skyseer, by Enworld Publishing, crushes the stereotype of the dull point to point D&D adventure and infuses a meaty mystery with enough role-playing, intrigue and action to satisfy an entire party.

What makes the 95-page Dying Skyseer so good is its sandbox approach to the mystery. Someone is dead, and the group must figure out who did it and why. There are a half dozen leads and avenues the party can investigate. Some will lead to the overall mystery, others are isolated sidequests that loosely link to the mystery. The writers never let the reader get lost. Some leads entangle sidequests, and the writer always includes several different scenarios that are broad enough to provide help for any situation that arises.

The layout is spectacular. Artwork that perfectly crosses fantasy with the industrial age. Vivid structuring and a sidebar answer every DM question. If you need to know what player traits do what, there’s a sidebar for that. If you need to know which NPCs do you have to keep alive, there’s a sidebar for that. Because this is EnWorld Publishing, if there’s something that is not answered the book, you can drop a message on the forum and the actual writer, Ryan Nock, will answer it, no matter what type of dumbfounded craziness occurs. There is no publisher that gives this level of customer service.

For the Dungeon Master
The effort put into the handouts is remarkable. Players will enjoy the city map and the extremely comprehensive bail certificate. It is the little touches like that that fulfill player immersion.

The Iron Word
I am approaching my last night of the adventure with my group, after 5 entertaining sessions and my party has not been this excited to participate in a climax in a long time. The adventure is spaciously designed to allow a group to be themselves, and tight enough where the party never feels lost and the dungeon master never needs to railroad. I fear reading the next installment of the Zeitgeist Campaign, as I am hard pressed to believe that anything will be able to top the level of detail and writing in this one.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #2: The Dying Skyseer (Pathfinder RPG)
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Designers & Dragons
Publisher: Mongoose
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2011 12:38:31
Iron Nugget

I will give a full review of this book next month, after I finish reading and digesting it. Still, I can't imagine that the remaining 200 pages are not as thought provoking and engrossing as the first 200. Shannon Applecline is an amazing reviewer. Her comprehensive documentary on paper of the history of RPGs should be required reading for everyone. Instlead of a linear history, Applecline breaks down specific publishers that shaped D&D in a very unbiased way. She manages to shape emotion around fact without stepping into the middle of still ongoing disputes. From the Hasbro purchase of WOTC to the shunning of Dave Areneson at TSR, it is all covered in detail and clarity.

Iron Word
The best advice I have received on role-playing, whether as a player or a dm, has been from accomplished game designers talking to me outside of a game environment. Designers & Dragons is the voice of 4 decades of a powerful role playing soul telling you its story.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Designers & Dragons
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Good Little Children Never Grow Up (PFRPG)
Publisher: Sneak Attack Press
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2011 09:56:03
If you want to achieve an eerie feeling in players, have children involved. There is something creepy about dead children that not too many other types of scare tactics can achieve. Some of the scariest movies of all time involve children terrorizing the adults in their life. Good Little Children Never Grow Up succeeds at providing a spooky Pathfinder adventure by taking advantage of the dead children premise.

Good Little Children, by Sneak Attack Press, is a 25 page mini-adventure with enough substance to take a party well into the night. There are no more than 3 encounters, but a good dungeon master can milk the role playing out of this adventure for an entire evening.

More than just a simple haunted house story, Good Little Children manages to rise above other adventures that fail to creep out players by separating the party mentally. Using a neat little handout system, players will perceive various portions of the house differently. It is much easier to take down a party when they are not on the same page.

For the Dungeon Master
The adventure follows a simple track, but has very colorful characters that can produce some strong role playing moments. This adventure can easily be wrapped around a Halloween game night one shot or inserted into a campaign.

The Iron Word
Forget Halloween candy, this nugget is a perfect little morsel for a Halloween Role Playing Game session. The simple nature is great for a group that does not meet regularly or for a DM who wants to have a minor diversion from their normal campaign.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Good Little Children Never Grow Up (PFRPG)
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The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2011 09:55:00
Like watching a baby walk or a child ride a bike for the first time, thus is the feeling one receives when they watch a party behave like a team, using tactics, for the first time. Sure the first few sessions are placated with a me, myself and I attitude, but as they party together, there comes that moment where they do something tactical that puts a tear in a Dungeon Master’s eye.

The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes, by Rite Publishing, hopes to inspire more of these moments by providing 12 pages of tactical archetypes that emphasize on teamwork feats and abilities. There are six archetypes, one that can be tacked on to each of the six classes in Paizo’s Advanced Player’s Guide. An archetype if a pack of skills and abilities that can be swapped out for another. They are the “new” prestige class.

There is no slouch among the six archetypes. Each gives a completely different idea of the class and takes none of the usefulness away.

The layout and coloring of the work is bright and vibrant. As with most Rite products, the 12 pages feels like a lot more.

For the Player
Do your DM a favor if you want to play a bard and instead, play an Inspiring Commander. It is the most tactical of the archetypes. Rapid Tactician, the ability to distribute any known teamwork feat can insure that at least one person in the party is tactical without everyone needing to grab teamwork feats.

For the Dungeon Master
I am anxious to use the Pack Master Archetype as an NPC. The archetype allows a character to utilize more than one animal companion.

The Iron Word
The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes is a strong archetype book, possibly the strongest released so far. The six archetypes stand out and will provide a strategic variety of gameplay for a character looking to play something other than damage dealer or healer. Though the material is more than worth it, I left wishing that more core classes would have included a makeover.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes (PFRPG)
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Fast Fantasy: NPCs 4
Publisher: Wild Hunt Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2011 09:53:17
Iron Nugget
Fast Fantasy is a series of PDFs that includes a detailed background of an NPC, as well as 4 statblocks of the character at low, mid and high level. The series does not include images, one of its biggest flaws, but does include, long well written prose to give a character enough of a background to infiltrate a campaign.

Fast Fantasy 4 gives us a wizard, Erinor Calmisius. Wild Hunt Games does a good job of creating a purposeful wizard. There is nothing special in the backstory to lean him closer to a villain or a hero, so DMs are welcome to add what they wish for the purpose they need.

The Iron Word

Fast FAntasy products are great little supplements to have nearby for those times when PCs meet or kill an NPC you had not planned for.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fast Fantasy: NPCs 4
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Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/26/2011 09:22:51
Iron Nugget
Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain gives us 5 well-stated NPCs that all have some relation to Dwarves.

The five NPCs all range from level 5 to 7 and can easily be inserted in a campaign. There is only one magic user, a cleric in the bunch. These NPCs are ready to drop into a campaign if you are pinching for an NPC while players are exploring dwarven regions. I also like the idea of using an NPC from this product if your party has a dwarf or two.

Iron Word
There really should have been more of a variety in the classes. Wizards are far more difficult to stat and far more valuable. Still, the colorful backgrounds shine through to make the NPCs of Under the Mountain useful and worthy of meeting a party.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
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Pathways #6 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2011 12:21:04
If you do not subscribe to Pathways Magazines, you should. More than just a compilation of Iron Nuggets

If you do not subscribe to Pathways Magazines, you should. More than just a compilation of marketing material from publishers, Pathways is a Pathfinder centric e-zine that produces consistently useful content and reviews. In issue 6, Pathways presents a deadly new template for creatures called “hero-killer”. My first thought was, aren’t all monsters hero killers. But this template compiles some flavor onto the creature, making it a mortal enemy of one of the party members. This cool concept is a great way to introduce a reoccurring villain and not interrupt an on-going campaign.

Other highlights of issue 6 include a very long, nicely written writeup of a barbarian king npc and a few traps that combine spells with diseases.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #6 (PFRPG)
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#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2011 12:06:41
Iron Nuggets
Rites Publishing presents another haunted gem with 30 Haunts for Objects. Taking the focus away from actual locations and placing them on items makes these Haunts easier than ever to place. The Haunts include challenges that range between low level encounters to high level things.

There are some spookily creative Haunts, Possessive Pain and Paranoid Potrait, that utilize common items in a house to expand a trap or adventure hook. These would be some of the best of the 30. My biggest problem with the book is not the stellar writing, but the concept of the Haunts themselves
.
Locations can be tied together to create a larger scheme. But with just objects, each haunt is a separate adventure hooks. In general, it feels that Haunts are incomplete and need something, knowledge rolls for how to solve them, to make them the useful tool that they are suppose to be. An expanded haunt, which included hints and clues as to how to solve the haunt would make the function of the haunt more suitable for any campaign.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
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Adventurer Essentials: True Alchemy
Publisher: Skortched Urf' Studios
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2011 11:46:51
Iron Nuggets
The Adventure Essentials series by Skortched Urf’ Studios tends to provide small, neat supplements for small niches in the game. True Alchemy is a list of items and alchemical options that can greatly increase the number of Alchemical options offered in the game.
True Alchemy begins by listing additional items that can aid in the creation of alchemy. The flavor of the items are well written and make a ton of sense when describing the inter-scientific procedures that would go into fantasy chemistry. What I like about True Alchemy is that they took a route far outside of the normal, what kind of chaos can I cause. Instead, they focus on a number of non-combat uses for the alchemy products. In addition to the creative items, there are two new races, both well designed, and a sorcerer bloodline.

The layout, text and artwork distracts from the material a bit, still it True Alchemy a nice accessory if your character has a few ranks in Craft: Alchemy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer Essentials: True Alchemy
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