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RAVENFELL: Items & Streets
Publisher: Fat Dragon Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2014 23:27:27
The various pieces that make up this set range in modeling difficulty from easy (the elevated road segments) to fairly complex (the cart and the well). Precision is especially required for the bridge, but also for pieces that fit together like the cart and its removable hay load or the outhouse and its seat. If the instructions are followed skillfully, the results are quite attractive and can really enhance any medieval village type of RPG battlemap.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RAVENFELL: Items & Streets
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Template Pack #2 Bog
Publisher: Lord Zsezse Works
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2014 23:01:46
The "templates" in this pack are four high-res backgrounds for book covers and book interiors. The "bog" aspect comes in the foliage that decorates the covers and page edges. You could use these for a gaming product or—more likely for me—an in-game handout. They're very attractive, and would make good tomes of druidic lore.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Template Pack #2 Bog
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Ground set #17 - Bog of Hope
Publisher: Lord Zsezse Works
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2014 00:46:46
Featuring path shapes similar to other LZW ground sets, this one takes you to a swampy area crisscrossed with paths and bridges, and festooned with brightly-colored flowers and fungi. I suppose the bright colors are what make ti a bog "of hope." It would fit well into a faerie-forest or even an underworld lit by glowing mushrooms. A set of small dwellings made from materials fanciful (perhaps giant mushrooms) and mundane are included. PDF layers are used to allow the addition of boats and animals to various tiles—but I don't consider these to be especially useful additions, since they depict movable elements that I don't want tied down to static tiles. The brief accompanying text is imaginative but not terribly consequential (and in need of better editing). All in all, a fun set with good artwork.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ground set #17 - Bog of Hope
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Viking Dining Hall
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/01/2014 00:19:51
The title offers a viking dining hall, and the track delivers a viking dining hall. Lots of voices, but they're not saying anything in discernible English. A bit of light instrumentation, some laughter, some clinking of tankards (or maybe small cymbals or something along those lines). Very well done and not too distracting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Viking Dining Hall
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Ambient Environments - Druid Ceremony
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2014 18:16:45
This may be one my favorite tracks from Gil Luna yet. The pulse of drums, twittering of birds, ambient vocals, and other audible elements of this track deliver a feeling of awe, sacredness, and nature. Admitting the influence of the track's name, I can easily picture myself at Stonehenge or some other circle of standing stones, looking on while druids do their thing. I also like this track just for listening; earlier today I had it looping for over an hour while I worked on another project, and it never became distracting or boring.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Druid Ceremony
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks Chris! Glad you enjoyed it. Forest of the Fae is similar in that context as far as listenability goes. Thanks for all of your reviews. It helps me see where I can make improvements and do! Cheers! ~g
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
Publisher: Chaosium
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2014 16:57:45
As someone who's always wanted to play Call of Cthulhu but has never really had the opportunity, I very much appreciate these quick-start rules. They're also a nice "holdover" for players waiting for the 7th edition to ship (which hasn't happened yet, as of this review). Be forewarned, however, that you won't be able to use these rules to play much other than the included adventure; they don't really contain enough for a keeper to devise further adventures using just the quick-start booklet. That adventure, by the way, is written both for new players and new GMs; as an RPG veteran but CoC newbie I thought it hit the mark rather well. The layout is a bit "Microsoft Wordy" and I noticed at least one missing word in some of the read-aloud text for "The Haunting," but these are fairly minor blemishes on an otherwise fine product. It's not a complete game, but you can get at least one good night of gaming out of it, at no cost. I call that a win.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Haunted Mars
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 15:01:53
This loop evokes a mysterious, barren, windswept plain. You could be standing in a Martian desert; you could be standing in Egypt next to a broken statue of Ozymandias. There are some strange noises in the background that add to the sense of wonder and mystery; I suppose these might imply a haunting. Whatever they suggest to you, the track is very effective at setting a "haunted" (either literally or metaphorically) mood in a desolate place.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Haunted Mars
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Black Mud Swamp
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:45:25
How do you know this soundscape represents a swamp, other than the title? Mainly from the buzzing insects. The mud is implied by occasional "sticky" footfalls. Why is the mud black? Well, because the title says so, and because it's nighttime, as you can tell from the crickets. Unlike most of Plate Mail Games's background loops, this one also has touches of "music" in the form of sustained, relatively high-pitched tones. The sound is sometimes almost like an electrical hum. These long notes add a touch of mystery, making this an excellent loop to play under any swamp scene, such as (but not limited to!) a visit to a black dragon's swamp in a fantasy RPG or the Louisiana bayou in Call/Trail of Cthulhu scenarios.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Black Mud Swamp
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Fantasy Medieval Battleground
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:38:29
Clashes of swords and shouts of warriors resound through this battlefield, implying a rather large number of combatants. What makes this a *fantasy* medieval battleground is the fire-breathing dragon (or inarticulate fire giant, perhaps). Very effective and enjoyable.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Fantasy Medieval Battleground
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Superhero Hover Fortress
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:14:54
Once you get over the misspelling in the track title and realize that this is not about superheroes hanging out with vacuum cleaner salespeople, you can appreciate the track for what it is: a fine background soundscape for the control room of an orbiting superhero base. I think I've heard of at least one decidedly courageous team with one of those.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Superhero Hover Fortress
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RPG Background Loops MP3: 1890s Train Station Platform
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 14:10:01
In this loop you can hear almost everything you'd expect to hear on the titular 1890s train station platform: train brakes, bells, whistles, turning wheels, puffing bellows. There's only one thing missing, and it's a fairly significant oversight: people. Where are the passengers? The conductors? Judging by the apparent number of whistles and trains, this would seem to be a fairly busy station, but there's no crowd noise. There might be a faint hint of footsteps now and again, but they're so faint I had to turn the volume up fairly high to hear them, and they didn't imply more than one or two people. I wouldn't want to hear distinct conversations, of course, but more evidence of a crowd on the platform would make this a five-star track.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: 1890s Train Station Platform
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Deep in the Jungle
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 13:52:33
The worst thing one can say about this loop is that it seems misnamed. The soundscape actually puts one in mind more of the aviary at a zoo than the deep jungle. When my son heard it, he actually thought it was my bird-sounds morning alarm sounding. The key shortcoming in the track, relative to its title, is the fact that you hear nothing but birds. Where are the monkeys/apes? The reptiles? The mammals? And most tellingly, the sounds of wind and animals acting on the foliage? If you're looking for a soundscape for a scene set in a deep jungle or rainforest, I would suggest looking elsewhere. But this track would make fine backing for a trip through an elven glen, a bird sanctuary, a lively but lightly wooded forest, or the aforementioned zoo.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Deep in the Jungle
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Villain's Spaceship Bridge
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 13:31:37
This loop is very unobtrusive—perhaps even too unobtrusive, if that's possible. I would describe the sensation more as a derelict spaceship bridge, barely functional, than a villain's spaceship bridge. A bed of white noise is interrupted occasionally by twittering sounds that might remind you of R2-D2 or a Star Trek communicator pin's chirp, and that's pretty much it. I don't hear a bustling villain's lair; I hear a ghost ship. Reframe the expectations set by the title and you get a good track for playing under a scene of exploring an abandoned (or haunted) spaceship. Think Ripley aboard the crashed ship in "Aliens," not Spock aboard the Narada in "Star Trek."

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Villain's Spaceship Bridge
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RPG Background Loops MP3: Steampunk Zeppelin
Publisher: Plate Mail Games
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2014 12:47:28
I'm not altogether sure how you'd know this soundscape was supposed to evoke a zeppelin if not for the title. But maybe that's actually a strength in this case, because it means that the loop isn't locked into just one use. There is a steady background thrum that does sound vaguely like a propellor; otherwise, the ambience consists mainly of ticking clockworks. That makes it useful for many different types of situations where the adventures are in or near any number of clockwork contraptions. (If you're not familiar with this series of background loops, be forewarned that by design there is no music here, just sound effects.) Finally, a quick proofreading note to Plate Mail Games, the "P" in "steampunk" shouldn't be capitalized.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RPG Background Loops MP3: Steampunk Zeppelin
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Ambient Environments - Abandoned Carnival
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 12:37:58
A noticeable but unobtrusive sound of wind, as if from a fan, sits at the base of this track, as it does so often when Gil Luna wants to convey a sense of abandonment or desolation. The sounds of creaking metal and rhythmic thumps suggest the “carnival” atmosphere. I was already “primed” to envision a carnival by the title, but those sounds really do make me think of an empty roller coaster, Ferris wheel, or similar ride—empty and stuck in an endless loop. Which means there’s either live electricity or some kind of mystical motive force around here somewhere. Soundscapes like this one inspire me to want to set RPG encounters in the locations they suggest, thereby earning my highest ratings.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Abandoned Carnival
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