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Netherell
Publisher: Terra-Sol Games LLC
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/24/2011 22:22:33
The strength of this publication is manifold, because of how a GM can use this at the table. I read through the book and imagined three separate campaigns. One Science Fiction, another Sword & Sorcery, and another as a truly Weird Fantasy. These settings are dependent on the origin and viewpoint of the PC's, and I imagine there would be some pretty interesting scenarios if the GM allows natives and 'galactic PCs' in the same party. The flexibility is in part due to the overall transparency of transition between describing science fiction and fantasy elements in the setting.

I love this setting, for many reasons. I always wanted to use the Traveller RPG, but as a kid, my limited gaming dollars went to material that prominently featured the artwork of Erol Otus as oppose to those LBBs. I picked up the new edition of the rules, but have yet to use them. This setting will let me try a game system I've never used before, experiment with fantasy tropes that I'm far too familiar with, and inspire me to introduce the weird and fantastic back into my game.

I would highly recommend this setting to anyone that appreciates speculative science fiction. I think this setting fits nicely in the context of 'Old School Renaissance'.

I would have given this 5 stars, but there are some issues with the table of contents. The Factions chapter is actually on page 111, right in the middle of the gazetteer, and not on page 125 as indicated by the TOC. There are several glaring spelling and grammar errors. A PDF document needs bookmarks to main entries, at minimum.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Netherell
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First Edition Sword Creator
Publisher: Usherwood Publishing
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/13/2010 13:52:32
A well constructed, if overly engineered, spreadsheet. It is protected, so to generate a new sword, one must hit 'F9' or whichever hotkey is tied to 'calculate'

I'd rate it higher, but a problem arises when more abilities are generated than will fit within a cell. Again, since the cells are protected, you can't resize, and you can't copy and paste the contents elsewhere.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
First Edition Sword Creator
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Magpie Codex RPG - Core Rule Book Reference PDF's
Publisher: Equinox Games
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/30/2009 13:56:09
I had high hopes for this game, but I found myself very disappointed. While reading it, I got this pervasive feeling that what I bought was playtest notes for a game in the making. The rules are poorly organized and poorly edited. It is unclear from the start how far afield these rules take d20. While I have seen ogl derivatives stretch the rules to great effect, they did so in a decisive and explanatory manner that ensured the reader that you did not need a core ruleset to reference against the changes present within.

I wrote the author for clarification, and received a response rather quickly. This will be, I imagine, the game's saving grace - an active response to gamer demands and complaints, and a willingness to complete what is essentially nothing more than copious notes of an in-house system.

Admittedly, I gave this a cursory read. At this time, that is all Magpie deserves. This game poor presentation has regulated this ruleset to the trash bin, until such time as a more polished and cohesive version of the rules are made available. I would have rated this game only 2 stars, had the author not been so quick in response to my questions, and earnest in engaging me in dialogue.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magpie Codex RPG - Core Rule Book Reference PDF's
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Magic: The Science and Art of Causing Change
Publisher: 93 Games Studio
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2005 00:00:00
This is a pretty neat product that allows you to construct a spell from a menu of options. This gives you a DC for which to cast the spell. Spellcasting causes non-lethal damage.

LIKED: Straight forward. Concise.

DISLIKED: So obvious editing and grammar errors, from the very beginning. The second sentence in the document reads:

"With our WILL we able to understand that reality is not a rigid shape, but more like a bowl of water."

Needs a couple more tables/considerations, such as how to increase saving throws, and DC for summoning spells (based on CR of creature summoned probably)

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magic: The Science and Art of Causing Change
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Elements of Magic (Revised)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2004 00:00:00
I really like the ideas in this product. I would have given it a better rating, but found the editing and writing to not be very good. I wrote this intro after I wrote my critique, and I feel like I've been a little harsh. In a way, I am, because I make the same mistakes I perceive the author making, and in a sense, I'm being my own worse critic. Enough apology, whatever you get from my comments, I do recommend the product. It is worth my money. Get this product if you want something other than the traditional D&D spell system.

Simply put, this is a d20 port of the very popular magic system from Ars Magica, but it took a really long time for me to understand the system.

Was it the lack of bookmarks in an electronic product?
Was it the poor editing?

Yes, and Yes. I won't say much about bookmarks except to say I feel they are very important. It's an electronic format, expect your customers to use it on their computer.

Editing
I judged editing by how quickly I grasped the same game concept that was presented in two game systems. I was already passingly familiar with Ars Magica; I read it once; but suddenly felt there was a huge learning curve to understand EoM.

I think the problems the author faced is that the ideas in the text are very divergent from core d20, and the author wished the ideas to be as accessible as the those found in the Player's Handbook.

What follows are thick, convoluted sentences, and ideas that are mired by verbose expression. There are organization errors which also make the text difficult to grasp.

Ars Magica got to the point when it came to describing spells, EoM doesn't. EoM takes too long explaining concepts that are unchanged from core d20 products, and never succinctly explains its own mechanic. I'm going to restate the entire system in a few sentences, because I like it so much.

Spells are like sentences: Verb + Noun.
EoM has 11 magical verbs, such as Evoke, Charm, Compel.
EoM has 3 magical nouns, Alignment, Creature, Element. The nouns are subdivided into specific alignment types (Good), creatures (Trolls), and elements (Ice).

Mages learn spell lists. A spell list is 1 verb + 1 noun, like Evoke Fire, or Charm Dragon. Mages cast spells by manipulating their spell lists to produce a magical effect.

A simple spell is one spell list + enhancements.
A complex spell is a two or more spell lists + enhancements.

To cast a spell, select your spell list, then enhancements, then spend magic points to determines how potent the spell is.


A summary like this, at the beginning of Chapter 2, would have gone a long way to concisely delivering information to the reader. It would have also reduced redundancy throughout the begining of the chapter. Furthermore, it would have followed a logical progression of delivering ideas. Simple summary, Simple Explanation, Detailed Information. As already stated, too much text was wasted on terminology that was unchanged from core d20. The author was quick to gloss over concepts like Magic Points, because the concept wound be, "familiar to anyone who has played computer RPGs.", but I find it interesting that the author of a traditional pen & paper RPG supplement would assume familiarity of MP from CRPGs, but not core gaming concepts from a game system he is writing about.

<Now that I think about it, "spell list" is a redundant terminology for spell, and it doesn't need to be in the text at all to explain the system. If you replaced "spell list", with spell, you could easily shave off 1/4 the explanatory text. The author is subconsciously aware of this, because chapter 3 is titled Spells, when in actuality it is devoted to Spell Lists.>

Once the basics of spellcasting was written, you could have explained signature spells:

There is an third type of spell called a signature spell. Signature spells can be cast more quickly than simple or complex spells. A signature spell is a specific formula. The formula's spell lists, enhancements, and magic points are fixed, and cannot be changed.

Take this sentence for example.
"Each spell list has multiple ways in which it can be cast, and you only choose the way you want to use it when you actually cast the spell; you don?t have to prepare spells in advance."

The above sentence is a summary of what a spell is, not a spell list. It comes three pages after the introduction to Chapter 2, when you should be presenting the actual mechanics of spell casting, yet it incorrectly appears in the introduction of the subtopic, Spell list.

Why is table 2.1 on page 18, when you are trying to explain the basics of spellcasting.

Page 21 has an orphaned paragraph in the second column under the illustration.

Rules for regaining Magic Points are repeated, verbatim, in two places in the same chapter.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Elements of Magic (Revised)
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DarkLore Campaign Primer
Publisher: The Black Orifice
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/07/2004 00:00:00
I purchased this to support ENworld

I've been briefly going over this product. My comment is a snap judgement only.

This setting has an old-school feel to it, partially imparted to the reader by the heavily shaded black and white illustrations, font, and format.

There are also devils. Devils is old-school to me, ala Greyhawk and the Great Horned Society. I like devils.

Darklore makes a modest conversion of D&D character classes to d20 modern classes, giving players the flexibility to tweak core classes or interpret tweener classes for themselves. In a sense, you get the flexibility of d20 Modern basic classes, but you keep the archetypical d20/D&D class feel. Thieves are Fast Heroes.

The Fighting technique system is interesting. In a nutshell, there are skills representing various styles of fighting. Your rank in that skill gives you one or more virtual feats when wielding weapons specific to that style. Each technique also allows maneuvers that you can perform.

For example, with the Bassal fighting style, I make a Fighting Style check DC 40, after I critical with my polearm, to pierce my enemy's vitals and cause a terrible wound. This is a very intriguing idea.

Darklore also introduces an interesting mechanic to allow Players to share some of the workload in creating entertaining games, through the use of Advantages. Advantages represent the most important story elements to a character, and players may spend their character's advantage points to kink the game their way, by initiating/introducing such elements as NPCs, events, or contact with secret societies. If you prefer more traditional gamemaster/player relationship, this can be removed without undermining the rest of the world design.

All in all, its very good.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DarkLore Campaign Primer
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(Aid) SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle
Publisher: Creative Mountain Games
by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/27/2004 00:00:00
I know that the product doesn't advertise having Psionics, but I would really like the psionics SRD added to my "SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle"

I really like this product, since I do so much game preparation on my laptop, away from my books.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
(Aid) SRD 3.5 Revised (Full) Bundle
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