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The Danse Macabre
Publisher: White Wolf
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2012 14:03:33
The Danse Macabre opens a wide vista of options for Vampire and to a lesser extent other World of Darkness games. If you wish to expand your campaign in any of a variety of directions, this book is full of useful tools and inspiration to do so.

The Danse Macabre is a 266-page PDF (260-pages if you remove the covers and ads) for Vampire: the Requiem (and the World of Darkness in general) RPG written by Russell Bailey, Benjamin Baugh, David Brookshaw, Christopher Cowger, Bethany Culp, Matthew McFarland, Greg Stolze, and Chuck Wendig and published by White Wolf Publishing.

Danse Macabre has a mix of single and double column layout, depending on what is being conveyed and is easily readable. The art is full color cover with black and white interior pieces. It is nicely book-marked but lacks an index.

Danse Macabre begins with an introduction to this book which is designed to open up the possibilities of playing a Vampire/World of Darkness campaign and to provide the tools for doing so. Inter-spaced between the various resource filled chapters are fiction pieces (A Season of Secrets by Greg Stolze) which indirectly help with visualizing the ideas discussed.

As a framing way to look at things, it breaks the game down into three tiers of play: the bottom tier of newcomers and scut work, rarely played but the people that support the higher tiers. The middle tier, the usual level of Vampire play, where people have power, status and allies. And the top tier of elders and power players, where everyone wants to be. How each of the groups within the game look at the power structure and how to use (and abuse it) and various ways to play the masquerade and a wide set of example masks that can be used to do so.

The Bounds of Covenant looks at conspiracies of vampires, in twelve flavors, are presented for use as allies, enemies or rivals with complete and intriguing description. There is a smattering of new abilities, rules and merits here along with suggestions for making some of the conspiracies totally gonzo if that is your taste.

The Bloody Business chapter is full of new rules providing: detailed social combat rules with new tactics, use of talents and merits. Expanded mental combat rules and new ways to expand physical combat and make the scenes more interesting. Anchors and setting up social/emotional ties for characters. Rule for creating beings such as gargoyles and other toys that vampires can build for their use are provided.

The final chapter, Dead, Dread Chronicles give a set of campaign ideas such as the Dark metropolis (urban noir), When the World Ends (post apocalyptic), and Blood Mark (getting the band back together . . . after a century apart). Some fun and intriguing ideas here, a good source of inspiration for starting a new campaign or changing the direction of an existing one.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Danse Macabre
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Shadowrun: Dreamchipper
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2012 20:22:54
Dreamchipper is a blast from the past, an adventure for the original version of Shadowrun. It is still a fun read and a fun adventure but a few additional pages with suggestions on ways to update and adapt it to the current edition and setting would not have been amiss.

Dreamchipper for Shadowrun written by James D. Long and published by Catalyst Game Labs (and originally published by FASA in 1989). It is an 84-page PDF which reproduces the original FASA module.

Dreamchipper is an adventure set in 2050 (22 years before the default date of the current edition of Shadowrun) and one of the classic 1st edition modules for Shadowrun. There is fiction setting the scene, notes on hiring the runners and then completing the mission, which is tracking down three experimental BTL (better than life) chips which involve taking them from the people currently using them.

It is a fun adventure and I have found memories of playing through back in the day. But it would require a major overhaul to play it with the current edition of the rules, all the setting material would have to be adjusted, the NPCs restatted and so on. So it is more of a nostalgia piece and source of inspiration than a usable scenario.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Dreamchipper
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Shadowrun: The Way of the Adept
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2012 13:06:06
Way of the Adept is all about the magical adepts who use the power of magic to improve and remake themselves but it physically or mentally. This product expands on the options for adept characters in the Shadowrun setting and provides information on how they fit into the setting.

Way of the Adept for Shadowrun written by Russell Zimmerman and published by Catalyst Game Labs. It is a 15-page PDF organized in the usual style of Shadowrun products and well illustrated.

Way of the Adept is a look at the ways that adepts, people who channel magic to improve themselves, are evolving in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. Much of the product is presented as an ‘in setting’ discussion about adepts and the paths that they follow in using their magic. This is good background and gives a feel for where and how the adept fit into the setting.

At the end there are three pages of new qualities, the focused Way of X adepts, which allow the character to specialize in particular adept abilities such as the Athlete’s Way (excellence in sports and physical skills) or the Speaker’s Way (talking and social skill mastery) and then a new set of Adept powers tied to various Ways.

It is a useful resource, especially if adepts are popular among your players, but I would have liked to have seen more about how adepts are viewed by and interact with ‘normal’ people in the Shadowrun setting.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Way of the Adept
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 15 Fantasy Fees and Taxes
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 14:31:48
All of the #1 with a Bullet Point products are short and to the point, they come with a big idea and then the mechanics to implement it.

15 Fantasy Fees and Taxes: exactly what it says, fifteen mostly obscure (to modern people) taxes and charges that existed in the past as various ways for the state to acquire money and impose economic stability. Several are fun and almost all will be annoying. If you like finding ways to bedevil your characters enjoy this product (which was released on tax day for bonus amusement).

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 15 Fantasy Fees and Taxes
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 10 Feats of Hammer and Thunder
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 14:28:53
All of the #1 with a Bullet Point products are short and to the point, they come with a big idea and then the mechanics to implement it.

10 Feats of Hammer and Thunder: Thor is in that new movie, you want to wield a hammer like Thor, then get these feats! A variety of hammer weapon tricks, mostly offensive, several of which combine with clerical or paladin abilities. If you want to smite your foe with a big, blessed hammer, you will find something to your tastes.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 10 Feats of Hammer and Thunder
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 7 Stupid Weapon Designs
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 14:27:06
All of the #1 with a Bullet Point products are short and to the point, they come with a big idea and then the mechanics to implement it.

7 Stupid Fantasy Weapons: and they are, as you would expect from an April’s Fools product, such as: the two-handed Greatwhip! The Bastard Club! The iron clad Battle Lute! Need an insane signature weapon for a character, one of these might just fit.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 7 Stupid Weapon Designs
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 3 New Supernatural Monster Abilities
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 14:26:19
All of the #1 with a Bullet Point products are short and to the point, they come with a big idea and then the mechanics to implement it.

3 New Supernatural Monster Abilities: These give you the ability to customize monsters in interesting, and powerful, ways to create unique and challenging encounters. One has potential social application, one can be used for stealth and the last is pure combat, so they can be used in a variety of situations.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 3 New Supernatural Monster Abilities
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 10 Monster Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2012 14:23:33
All of the #1 with a Bullet Point products are short and to the point, they come with a big idea and then the mechanics to implement it.

10 Monster Feats provides more customization for unique monsters and capstone enemies. The feats are combat and strong creature oriented, but that still allows them to be used by a wide variety of monsters. If you need some tricks for the giant king, you will find them here.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 10 Monster Feats
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The Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less Vol. 9: Bell, Book, & Candle
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2012 17:14:57
As with all the Loot 4 Less series, a good selection of inexpensive items with bards and witches especially gaining some nice items to play with.

The Genius Guide to: Loot 4 Less Volume 9 - Bell, Book and Candle is a 10-page PDF (9 pages if you remove the credits/OGL page) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Owen K. C. Stephens and published by Super Genius Games. This is part of Super Genius Games’ Genius Guide/Loot 4 Less line.

The layout is a screen-friendly landscape design, with cover art and 1-column on the first page and three columns on the rest. The product is clear and easy to read though there is some white space. The art is mixed color and B&W and generally supports the theme of this product.

As with all of the Loot 4 Less opens with a disclaimer about what you will not find here (i.e. powerful or even mid-level magic items) and a short discussion about the Loot 4 Less design philosophy, which -in a nutshell- is that more minor magic items make for more interesting treasure.

The core of the product is the items themselves, six bells, five books and six candles. Bells can be more easily made by bards and candles by witches, which makes sense thematically. The bells include useful items such as the alarm bell and the defensive temple bell. Among the books are the punning (but very useful) live journal and the rather self-referential manual of monsters (know your foe). Lastly are the candles which include a variety of candle that enhance the hexing power of witches

As is traditional with this series, the author discusses how certain items were built and why they cost as much as they do. This provides a good look in on careful design considerations within the system which is useful for anyone seeking to understand the Pathfinder magic item system.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less Vol. 9: Bell, Book, & Candle
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Resnet's Spellbook
Publisher: Hudspeth Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2012 20:37:51
Resnet’s Spellbook provides a wide variety of new spells and there are some good ideas here, especially the new bard spells, but it is a mixed bag.

Resnet’s Spellbook is a spell sourcebook for the D20/OGL/3.x Fantasy written by Quentin Hudspeth and published by Hudspeth’s Games. A variety of other formats are included, .mobi, .epub, along with pretty, printer and screen friendly PDF versions so you should be able to find a version that you can read comfortably.

Resnet’s Spellbook contains what it says on the tin, a book of new spells, seventy-five of them. It starts with an introduction to who Resnet was or is, a wandering bard and sister to a powerful wizard, and suggestions on how to use the book.

The 75 spells run from level 0 to 9th level, and covers all core class and a variety of proprietary classes from WotC (Beguiler, Duskblade, Hexblade and Warmage). The product says that an OGL version of the Duskblade, called the Dawnblade, is available on the Hudspeth Game’s website but I could not find it.

The majority of the spells are combat related, as is usual, and many are variation on existing spells (such as Adamantskin, a better Stoneskin) and are higher level (20 of the spells are 7th level or higher). Most of the spells are solid if not very exciting, though the 0-level spells are all simply better than the existing ones. However, the new bard’s spells are quite good from the various Voice spells that inspire various emotions to the humorous damaging spell, Resounding Sneeze. One of two of the spells (like Wit’s End) look overpowered so do not use any of the spells without looking at how they will play out in your campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Resnet's Spellbook
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Monsters of NeoExodus: Harvester of Sorrow (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/08/2012 15:00:57
The Harvester of Sorrow fills an interesting niche in the ranks of the undead and can be used in many styles of campaigns. However, it is a very power-oriented creature, if its abilities (especially the wail) can be negated, it is likely to find itself easy prey for its hunters.

Monsters of NeoExodus: Harvester of Sorrow is part of the support for the NeoExodus Pathfinder setting by Louis J Porter Jr Design providing monsters and enemies linked to that setting, this volume was written by Greg Oppedisano and Tom Baumbach with Louis Porter Jr. It is a seven-page product (4.5 after cover, ad and OGL) with an easy to read layout and the only art being the very nice full color cover piece (of which part is used for the character tokens included at the end of the product) with the last two pages being a sheet of tokens and a record sheet.

Harvesters of Sorrow are undead created when the soul of a suicide victim is refused entry to the afterlife. The Harvesters of Sorrow seek others to kill and convert into lost souls like themselves. It is a solid background for an undead creature with appropriate hooks into mythology.

The Harvesters of Sorrow uses a plaintive wail to overwhelm the listeners with its terrible soul-felt grief (inflicting the new aggrieved condition). While its bite carrying a magical disease whose victims in turn become Harvesters of Sorrow as well, allowing the numbers of these foul creatures to grow.

In addition to the standard Harvester of Sorrow (CR 4), a Dread Harvester (CR 6) is also presented, the Dread Harvester’s suffering aura is manifest around it, making it a much more dangerous foe than the lesser version.

The product is solid but would be strengthened by a few scenario seeds.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of NeoExodus: Harvester of Sorrow (PFRPG)
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The Genius Guide to the Time Warden
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2012 09:53:36
The Time Warden is an interesting take on characters who can manipulate time, while not for every campaign if you have considered using time travelers in a magic setting, this will provide a wealth of ideas and tools for such.

The Genius Guide to: the Time Warden is a 15-page PDF (14 pages if you remove the credits/OGL page) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Owen K. C. Stephens and published by Super Genius Games. This is the second of Super Genius Games’ Genius Guide line.

The layout is a screen-friendly landscape design, with cover art and 1-column on the first page and three columns on the rest. The charts are easy to read though the spell lists are a bit tight. The art is full color photographs.

Time Warden is a full 20-level base class mixing spell casting (themed as Chronothurgy, time manipulation) and a set of time-based abilities using motes, stolen moments, and aevum, borrowed critical moments, to bend reality to their advantage.

The chronothurgy spells are mostly normal spells with different favor, but a few are fun changes to their versions of magic missile (“chronal bolt”) and other spells, there are also two new spells (including Time Travel). A chronal template for monsters, allowing them to manipulate time thoughs motes and aevum, is provided.

Perhaps most importantly, almost two full pages are devoted to adventures in time and ways to use the Time Warden. While many Games Masters may, understandably, be wary of using time travel in a campaign this section provides some useful -if general- advance for how to deal with such.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Time Warden
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #14: Heavy Metal
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/29/2012 16:54:28
Like all of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file.

Heavy Metal is the strongman of the Cybertribe (and brother to Sister Steel), tough and powerful, but also the youngest and most gentle of the team. An interesting character and very good at what he does (which is be strong and tough which you can be very of both at PL 11) and an important member of the Cybertribe but not the on the face of it the most interesting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #14: Heavy Metal
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #13: Sister Steel
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/29/2012 16:46:07
Like all of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file.

Sister Steel is the Cybertribe's field leader, strong, fast and effective. Her cybernetic shell compensates for his weakness of her body. Seeking to strike out at the world that has always beat her down, she restrains her anger to better protect her family. An effective and direct combatant (at PL 10) and an interesting character.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #13: Sister Steel
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Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #12: Rez
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/29/2012 16:32:33
Like all of the threat reports come with a nice piece of color art of the character embedded in the PDF and a separate Hero Lab file.

Rez is the Cybertribe's infiltration specialist, able to change her appearance at will. As someone who hated her appearance, her new found freedom to be anyone, anytime. Her powers are focused on being other people, which she loves as character, and is a fascinating build for an infiltrator. Again, an interesting mostly non-combat build (at PL 10) which allows for some fun and interesting plots.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #12: Rez
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