DriveThruRPG.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse
 Publisher Info









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Burning Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 18:48:35
Flames—which sound surprisingly similar to river rapids—surround the listener, as the sounds of falling wooden beams and shattering glass let you know that the building is in bad shape. The presence of shattering glass does limit your options somewhat in the time periods or kinds of buildings you can use with this track. For example, it might fit with a fantasy-medieval cathedral, palace, or wizardry school, but not with the town mill or farmer Grizzle's barn (to hearken back to one of the earliest scenarios I used to introduce D&D to my older son). All in all, I think a modern setting feels like a better fit. Of course, you could also play this track in the background while playing Flash Point; gaming background loops don't have to be just for RPGs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Burning Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

ICONS: The Nemesis Crisis
Publisher: Ad Infinitum Adventures
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 13:11:36
If you enjoy comics series along the lines of Marvel's "Secret Wars" or "Contest of Champions," DC's "Salvation Run," or BOOM!'s "Deathmatch," you should be able to have a blast with "The Nemesis Crisis." The storyline revisits some well-worn ground—cosmic being "kidnaps" metahumans for a sort of contest—but with enough distinctiveness in the cosmic antagonist's motivation to keep the story interesting. It's particularly notable that author and artist Dan Houser includes guidance for giving the adventure a tone appropriate to the Golden, Silver, Iron, or Modern Age in comics.

It's not quite right to call "The Nemesis Crisis" an "adventure" in the traditional sense. By design, it's really more of a framework for an adventure. Dan gives the GM a lot of information about the antagonist's and deuteragonist's motivations, which of course is absolutely critical. Beyond this, the meat of the plot information for GMs comes in the form of a timeline describing what happens if the player characters do nothing. Since the whole scenario stretches out over a week of in-game time, this is a good format. What it lacks is sufficient information for inexperienced or harried GMs to know how the deuteragonist will respond if the PCs do not remain idle, which of course they won't. As a GM with little prep time and, frankly, below-average improvisational skills, I would have appreciated an additional sentence or two for each entry in the timeline, something like "If foiled, [deuteragonist] will …" This isn't a damning weakness, but I'd call it a significant missed opportunity.

Production values vary depending on what you're looking at. Dan's artwork is, as always, evocative and entertaining. As a writer, Dan's strength is in conceptualizing stories, not in wordsmithing. The prose has a rushed quality to it. Grammatical errors, typos, and such are not infrequent. Some of this can be written off as a "conversational tone," but some can create annoyance or confusion. For example, the cosmic antagonist is called "Justicar," and while the name clearly derives from the English word "justiciar," it's not clear whether the spelling "Justicar" is an intentional variation or a mere misspelling. Also, for somebody so interested in justice, it's laughable that Justicar at one point refers to "not guilty" as a "sentence." There's also a disruptive column-wrap error in Derecha's stat block. But these things are all GM-facing, and only affect the aesthetic experience of reading the module, not the play experience at the table.

"The Nemesis Crisis" is envisioned as a "big crossover event," like DC's "Forever Evil" or Marvel's "Original Sin" (to cite two recent examples). To get this "big crossover event" feel, you'll need a very large selection of supervillains, and you may want to have your players adopt the rules of multiple superheroes, either in big teams where players run multiple characters at once, or in successive "meanwhile, elsewhere on the planetoid" scenes. Therefore, the "event" works best if you have easy access to Hero Pack 5 (the Hero Pack volume with the most substantial supervillain population) and/or the Villainomicon. By the way, "The Nemesis Crisis" is written with the original ICONS rules set in mind, but it's not hard to adjust on the fly to the Assembled Edition—in fact, I don't think you'll even notice the difference, except for the way qualities are written.

In sum, "The Nemesis Crisis" is an ambitious scenario that can easily bring the "big crossover event" feel to an ICONS gaming table. It's well worth the price, and worth the time to run, for what it pays you back in fun. It does, however, require an additional source of supervillains to be most effective.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ICONS: The Nemesis Crisis
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Biomechanical Satellite Interior - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:35:25
Right off the bat, the "bio-" is implied by a wet, squishy sound and the "-mechanical" by a constant low-pitched thrum. Later on, the thrum is joined by beeps that sound like they might be coming from some kind of control panel. I think I hear footfalls as well. I picture a group of space travelers walking through muck on a spaceship they've boarded, only to realize to their horror that the muck is living tissue. The track suggests a sort of creepier version of certain scenes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint." I could easily imagine using this track for certain kinds of CthulhuTech, Delta Green, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Dr. Who scenarios. If you're setting an RPG scene in a venue where creepy biomass and high technology meet, consider using this track to add immersion.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Biomechanical Satellite Interior  - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Arctic Excursion 2 - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:23:55
This track is so similar to "Arctic Excursion" that one might justifiably wonder why Ambient Environments felt the need to add it to their library. It's not that I can't hear any difference; it's just that the small differences I hear don't seem to matter much. The two tracks feel like they have essentially the same elements arranged in a different pattern. "Arctic Excursion 2" may go a bit heavier on the ambient musical tones. I was expecting something more different, and felt let down. Now, with that said, this is a fine track on its own—I just don't think it distinguishes itself enough from "Arctic Excursion" for most DMs to want both. I'd recommend choosing one or other other. I would give this track five stars if it didn't seem as much like a do-over.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arctic Excursion 2 - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Arctic Excursion - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 11:11:44
How do you imply an arctic setting with sound? This track does it with wind, and with the occasional avalanche-like tumble of snow and boulders plus the cracking of thick ice. I think you might also be able to hear some dogs (or walruses?) barking in the distance, but I'm not sure about that—which means those particular sounds are subtle enough to imply a vague threat, or a vague hope of assistance. If I'd had this track back when I ran a series of antarctic adventures, I'd likely have used it to help set the mood. Thinking more broadly, you could also use this track for a heavy snowstorm in an urban environment, or perhaps a post-apocalyptic ice age.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Arctic Excursion - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Alien Starship (interior) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 10:50:37
There's a constant low thrum in the background of this track, rhythmic enough to suggest a starship engine. Little beeps and twitters make me think of the control panels on the starship Enterprise, especially in classic and animated Trek. There might also be some robots moving around back there somewhere. Overall, the sound effects are relatively understated; they'll enhance a shipboard scene without getting in the way. I wouldn't suggest using the track to score a combat, as it's too peaceful for that. This track feels better for a diplomatic visit to a working ship, or possibly the exploration of an abandoned alien ship where the mood is one of curiosity rather than threat. It's a solid addition to Ambient Environments' library, a "workhorse" kind of track that can work in a variety of situations, and it does its job well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alien Starship (interior) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Subway Busy - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2014 10:35:49
This track basically consists of a bed of white noise overlaid with occasional sounds of footfalls, voices (some comprehensible as PA announcements, others just crowd noise), and metallic sounds (think of a subway train's brakes). It's a pretty good simulation of a subway station with a moderate number of civilians. The footfalls on concrete make it less suitable for a scene taking place in an actual subway car, just to be clear about the setting. In my view, the constant background white noise is a little overdone; it's too loud for my taste, and it doesn't have the rhythmic quality that would simulate the distant rumble of subway trains. Instead, it just sounds like noise, and it detracts from the other sounds. Otherwise, a fine track.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Subway Busy - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Subway Abandoned - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/14/2014 15:55:07
This track is characterized by a haunting windlike sound—not quite as monotonous as white noise—overlaid with dripping water, the occasional metallic creak, and rats skittering about and chittering to one another. That's about it. It's dark and desolate, as an abandoned subway tunnel should be. Of course, it doesn't have to be a subway tunnel that your PCs are moving through; this track could just as easily spice up a sparsely-populated fantasy dungeon of the good old "dungeon crawl" kind. I do think the wind/white noise might be a bit too heavy, though. It makes me wonder where that wind is coming from.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Subway Abandoned - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Tank Battle - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/14/2014 13:37:16
My son recently ran an ICONS adventure set during World War II, and this soundscape would have been perfect background accompaniment for the adventure. We were in the car at the time, though, and I didn't have the track on my phone. If you have any plans to run an RPG scenario set on a modern battlefield, whether in World War II or Operation Desert Storm, you should find that this track enhances the experience. Although the track is called "Tank Battle," you'll hear not just the advance of tanks and the firing of large caliber guns like those mounted in tank turrets, but also machine-gun fire, shattering glass, and the like. The only thing that seemed somewhat out of place to me were sounds that reminded me more of giant metallic footfalls than anything else—which could perhaps be great if you're running something with large mechs (Battletech, a kaiju game, or something like that) on an otherwise modern battlefield.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tank Battle - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Wild West Showdown - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/14/2014 13:09:23
A lonely acoustic guitar adds some mournful music to this track, which is otherwise filled solely with gunfire and the occasional whinnying of a horse. If you use this during an RPG session (Deadlands or whatever), I would suggest keeping the volume somewhat low so that you don't have difficulty hearing one another at the table. At any volume, it's a great way to add to the sense of immersion, whether the PCs are involved in the gunfight or are engaged in other activities while the gunfight rages outside in the street.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wild West Showdown - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

[ICONS] Sentinels of Stark City
Publisher: Fainting Goat Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2014 21:05:51
This add-on for the Stark City setting from Fainting Goat Games presents nine superheroes who patrol Stark City. The characters are interesting and the art—mostly by Jacob Blackmon with contributions by Jon Gibbons and Dan Houser—is wonderful (though a little jarring when the three artists' works are composited, as on the cover). Sadly, the prose needs a thorough editing for grammar and consistency (for example, aspects are sometimes set in sentence case, some in title case). The table of contents is numbered 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 instead of 1–9, without any explanation (the Kickstarter backers' version seems to have the same table of contents, so I don't know where the "missing" characters are). The Fainting Goat guys are capable of such fantastic stuff that it's sad to see these kinds of errors. The product's biggest weakness, however, is simply that it's a collection of superheroes for a superhero game—for which a collection of supervillains is much more useful. The heroes presented here could be used as pregenerated characters, or as notable NPCs, but for a long-term Stark City campaign, players are more likely to want to play heroes of their own creation. If you need a collection of superheroes for your Stark City campaign, though, this fits the bill.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[ICONS] Sentinels of Stark City
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Gygax magazine issue #4
Publisher: TSR, Inc.
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2014 18:36:22
In many ways, reading an issue of Gygax Magazine is like reading an old issue of the Dragon—which, I suppose, is pretty much what the editors are going for. The fantastic cover illustration of issue #4 evokes the series of chess-related covers that graced the older magazine back in its TSR heyday. Of course it does, since it's by the same artist, Den Beauvais! To me, the cover is really the highlight of issue #4.

The second highlight of this issue is undoubtedly the long and (overly?) detailed Top Secret adventure by Merle Rasmussen. The adventure offers a nice mix of a specific mission and a sandbox enviroment—almost literally, since you're going to the desert. Robotic camels and spy drones disguised as bats … what's not to love? If, that is, you still have a copy of the Top Secret rules lying around somewhere. I don't know what happened to my copy after I went to college and left my games behind with my younger brother.

I really enjoyed Michael Varhola's "Men and Monsters of Polynesia" (apparently for AD&D and retroclones) despite its andronormative title, and would have really loved to have this resource back when I started my current D&D campaign, which was mostly set in the South Seas until the PCs started plane-hopping. This issue's installment of "Leomund's Secure Shelter" did nothing for me, just adding complexity to AD&D archery that I don't feel a need for. Jon Peterson's "Adventuring Without the Magic" was a really fun romp down memory lane; I kept saying, "I played that! I remember when that came out!" I didn't care much for Dave Olson's "Necromancer's Cookbook" (maybe because my current game, D&D 4e, has plenty of varieties of undead) or the article on "Djinn" by Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash (though that might be different were I playing a game where djinn figure more prominently), and Bill McDonald's "Psionics Without the Points" didn't engage me either. On the other hand, Timothy Connolly's "Randomize Your Realm" will be a tool I'll bookmark, and to which I'll return next time I run a homebrew fantasy campaign.

As for the cartoons, Order of the Stick was okay this time, but Full Frontal Nerdity was really funny.

I think I noticed a couple of typos and such in issue #4, but they were apparently not serious enough to stick with me. I only have two complains about this issue. First, sometimes it's not obvious which system a particular article intends to address. You have to read two paragraphs into the article about djinn, for example, to learn that it's keyed to RuneQuest 6. Some kind of header tag at the top of the page identifying the relevant system would be most welcome. Second, 76 pages is long enough for the PDF to need bookmarks, which the publisher did not supply.

If you want new material for AD&D or its retroclones, or you just want a good dose of nostalgia, go ahead and get a copy of Gygax Magazine #4.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #4
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Alien Autopsy - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2014 17:47:29
This isn't necessarily one of Ambient Entertainment's more useful tracks, but it's definitely one of the most creative. Unfortunately, those two things almost inherently work against each other, as the more creative a track is, the narrower its application. But if you have occasion to stage an alien autopsy in your RPG, this track provides a really flavorful backdrop. The thing that makes this autopsy "alien" seems to be "squishiness" of the autopsy subject. If you can hear past that, or explain it in some other way, you might be able to make this track work as background for any high-stakes autopsy that the PCs have to witness. One thing that might detract a bit from the "autopsy" feel is the occasional beeping of machines that sound like medical monitors—normally used on living patients. For a twist, use this track when the PCs wake up in an alien medical bay, strapped to their beds, with alien doctors performing experiments on living humans all around them!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alien Autopsy - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Abandoned Underground Research Facility - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2014 17:39:34
Lots of white noise, dripping water, and what may be footfalls greet you as this track opens. I'm guessing that the white noise is intentional, and maybe represents the rumbling of a nearby generator, or maybe the HVAC system is still running down here. Once in a while you hear a quasi-musical tone, which I take as the sound of stressed metal or something like that. You might even imagine that there's something alive down here. I can definitely imagine using this soundscape to score a scene in an abandoned underground research facility, as the name suggests—as long as the facility has been damaged or otherwise seriously degraded, to allow for the dripping water and such. The track would also be useful as background ambience for steam tunnels—holler if you see Dallas Egbert down there. (What? Too soon?)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Abandoned Underground Research Facility - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Storyteller's Thesaurus
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/09/2014 23:19:16
This book is not exactly a "thesaurus," although it resembles one since it presents lists of related words. In a typical thesaurus, you look up a word and get a list of its synonyms. For example, if I look up "musical" in the thesaurus installed on my computer, I get "tuneful, melodic, melodious, harmonious," and other things like that. Not so for the Storyteller's Thesaurus, which instead offers lists of words that belong together in a meaningful category. Look up "Musical" in the Storyteller's Thesaurus, and you'll find it under "Occupations" in the "Character Building" chapter. The list includes "bassist," "cellist," "flutist," "organist," and so forth, which obviously are not synonyms but are all examples of specific musical occupations.

Understanding the difference between the Storyteller's Thesaurus and an ordinary thesaurus is critical for using the book responsibly. The authors explain in the introduction that the book is intended to help writers avoid clichés, overcome writer's block, and defeat other such impediments to writing. The Storyteller's Thesaurus helps to spark your imagination when you're coming up empty. Reading the introductory chapter and taking its advice—especially its advice on research—is absolutely crucial, lest you end up thinking that a hippocampus is the same thing as a hypothalamus. Make sure you have, at the very least, a good dictionary handy as a companion volume.

The book is huge. It has 141 pages of content plus a alphabetical index that runs for 401 pages. No, really—the index is 401 pages long. But it’s an amazingly useful resource for those times when you can't remember whether "Cape Cod" is an architectural style or a component of Aquaman's uniform.

Production values could have stood greater attention. The occasional formatting inconsistencies usually don't affect the book's usefulness, but they can be a little confusing. For example, in the list of phobias, the first six phobia names are set in a serif tytpeface, and the rest in a sans serif face. Also, that two-column list spans three pages—with the first column running all the way down to the third page, then wrapping back to the first page to start the second column, which is a bizarre way to format columnar text over multiple pages.

The PDF is thoroughly and helpfully bookmarked, but the capitalization is inconsistent in the bookmarks, which is both ugly to the eye and confusing as one tries to sort out whether that's just a mistake or whether there's semantic value to the (lack of) capitalization. Some of the bookmarks point to the header text, while other bookmarks are duplicated various places in the outline—that is, the same text but leading to different pages. The bookmarks almost seem to have been auto-generated by software rather than by a human being.

There are some errors or oddities in the book, too. For example, the city of Ur is listed under "Sites Lost or Unproven to Exist," which would surprise Sir Leonard Woolley, who famously excavated the city. In the same list, "Ghenna" appears to be a misspelling for "Gehenna" (which is also a known place, the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, although it has been mythicized in popular imagination). The "Books of the Bible" list fails to distinguish between Jewish Bibles and Christian Bibles, and between Protestant Bibles and Roman Catholic Bibles. All of this underscores the importance of following the introduction's advice about research.

Appendix A's list of commonly confused words is well-intentioned and very welcome, but too short, and its selectivity might leave one scratching one's head. For example, the list includes "your/you're," "their/there/they're," and "to/too/two," but not "its/it's." Appendix B's list of proverbs is fun to browse, but again is formatted in two parallel columns that don’t wrap until the fifth page.

I recommend taking a good look at the "full preview" before buying this volume. That will help you make a good decision about whether the book is for you. If you follow the advice in the introduction about how to use the book, you should find that the Storyteller's Thesaurus sparks many useful ideas. If you ignore that advice and use the book ham-fistedly, you'll end up embarrassing yourself.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Storyteller's Thesaurus
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 16 to 30 (of 706 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates