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Legacy of Disaster
by Orin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2013 12:02:44
Listen, I'm gonna be straight with you here. L5R's RPG isn't for everyone. Try this out before you actually buy anything to see if it's for you but i gotta tell you, it's a lot of fun if you can hack it.

In this you'll find all the basics about how to play laid out, the core flavor of rokugan introduced and a colorful beginner's scenario to play through. Everything you need to decide if this is an RPG for you.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacy of Disaster
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7th Sea: Compendium
by Rickie M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2013 19:30:41
The &th Sea: Compendium PDF from DriveThruRPG is an excellent addition to and 7th Sea collection. It is a high quality scan that looks like original book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea: Compendium
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The Book of Earth
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/02/2013 19:31:44
Second in the series of elemental-themed sourcebooks for the timeline-neutral 4th Edition, the Book of Earth is the latest release on PDF.

The Book of Earth focuses on the facets that are relevant to Earth, as broken down to a look into War, the Court, Magic, Enlightenment and the Setting. Like the Book of Air, the Book of Earth also provides a self-contained setting that can be dropped into any campaign. For those looking for new Mechanics, they follow the same format as Book of Air, and have it all on the last chapter of the book.

I find that the approach of showing off each of elements as part of a greater culture and further subdivided per clan is a unique one, and the Book of Earth has some very good insights. My favorite section would have to be a discussion on armor, and the focus of Shiba Artisans creating ornate and functional armor for the bushi of the Phoenix was a very insightful touch.

I'm certain that Crab Clan fans will be very happy to get this book due to the focus and attention it gives to Heavy Weapons as well. There's also a quick section that shows how to use non-standard Skill / Trait pairings that focus on Willpower and Stamina, some of the most underused traits that get some interesting new combinations for both combat and non-combat characters alike.

That said, all the Clans get something from the book. The discussion on armor, castles and sieges for example, apply to all the clans. GMs and Players alike will find inspiration and plot hooks dripping from nearly every sentence, and I can see how this can be an inspiration for character concepts that go beyond the usual Bushi-Courtier-Shugenja trifecta. Sumai Champion bushi? Why not. Shiba Artisan focusing on Armor? Absolutely.

Those who are looking at the spiritual side of the element need not fear as there's a discussion on Earth magic, as well as the families that excel in it. The Tamori family for example is given some spotlight time here, as well as the infamous Chuda family. New Earth spells will make many shugenja players happy, and the Monks get their own set of kiho to shake things up.

Again the Book of Earth is a great addition to the L5R 4th Edition line. Much like the Book of Air, the book manages to expand the depth of culture and history of the setting while still remaining iconic and accessible to new players. Solid writing, combined with L5R's always excellent artwork make this one a winner.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Earth
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Second City Boxed Set
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/11/2012 20:22:21
It's been quite a wait for us who rely heavily on PDF copies of rpg books, but the Second City Boxed set that was released earlier this year has finally made it to electronic format.

I have to admit that I've been curious about this product for a while now, as I'm not entirely caught up on the canon storyline of L5R. Making a whole boxed set placed in what can be considered to be a very new development of the story is an interesting choice, as it does help people like me understand what is actually going on.

The Boxed set download is actually a group of PDF files for easier downloading. These include:

The Pillow Book
A Map of the Second City
A "for printing" version of the map
The Campaign
The City
The People
The Journal of Yogo Tanaka

It's a hefty download, but that's par for the course in L5R pdf books. Besides, most of the time the gorgeous production values and layout are always worth it.

The Maps

Both maps of the Second city are in full color, showing the massive scale of the city in question. It's impressive to look at and gives you a good idea as to just how many people can fit in this place. The difference between the files is just that the for-printing version is cut up into 8 pages, while the other has the entire map in one big image.

I did notice that there didn't seem to be any labels of any sort, so it's really a collection of buildings with some farmlands and a walled city in the middle with a palace in it. I'm curious as to why there weren't any labels, or if the files will be updated later.

The Pillow Book of Ide Arahime

The Pillow Book is a 20 page work of fiction meant to serve as an in-character guide to the Second City as written from the point of view of Ide Arahime, a Unicorn Clan author. Presented as a journal of the author's travel and experiences in the Second City, it presents an interesting "outsider's" view of just how different the Second City is compared to traditional Rokugan, and perhaps to the more astute L5R fans, just how many concessions were made to exist there.

The Author touches on all aspects of life, from the look and feel of the place, to the stranger customs, artwork, and architecture. There's a lot to be learned through the fiction, and I found it to be interesting reading and a good way to slowly introduce the differences to those unfamiliar with the colonies.

The Journal of Yogo Tanaka

This second journal is another in-character account, but serves as a record of Yogo Tanaka's investigations and how it slowly gets out of hand. The writing is well done, and I have to admit that it works well for it's purpose, which is a supplement to the Campaign included in the Boxed Set. I'd rather not go into too much detail with regards to the contents lest I spoil any pertinent information, but the book makes for an interesting prop for the campaign.

The Campaign

This pdf contains the rather... plainly titled, "The Campaign" which is a full length campaign meant for characters using the Second City setting. It's an extensive campaign, with interesting characters and a compelling villain go to after.

The campaign itself is fairly broad, starting from Rokugan proper and spinning off into a tour of the Second City setting itself. It's a strongly investigative campaign that lends itself well to characters and players who are more interested to mysteries than pure combat, though there's enough of that as well to show the unique dangers posed by the new setting.

I'm glad to see the variance of plot hooks in the campaign, and it suits a good mix of characters from different clans as the varying points of view and approaches to solving a problem can come in very handy.

The Campaign ends with a bestiary of the various monsters in the Second City setting, including the Destroyers and stranger creatures that can threaten even the most stalwart of samurai.

The City

This book is the one that provides the meat of the setting. Starting off from the History of the Second City as the Rokugani understand it. There's some mention of the Ivory Kingdoms, but the section starts from the rise of the Cult of Rhumal, and Kali-Ma the Destroyer and how Empress Iweko I proclaimed the colonies as territory of Rokugan.

The book also goes on to discuss the layout of the city, complete with sections of the map as presented in the PDF complete with the annotations I was looking for with regards to the important locations in the city. I'm starting to understand that the maps are the ones that can be provided to PCs who are new to the city, and they can be free to add their own notes as necessary, while the GM has this for reference.

Each district is covered in great detail, with all the locations given a thorough treatment and notable NPCs scattered throughout. The RPG team of L5R is known for being thorough, and it shines through in this book.

The last chapter of the book goes into the smaller details, including the routes by which people travel to and from the colonies, and a discussion of the culture and mannerisms of the Second City and how they differ from Rokugan main. A mini-Emerald Empire supplement, if you will.

The People

This PDF goes into the detail of the various social structures in the Second City, including the Ivory Court, the government of the Colonies. This is a great way to preserve the political / intrigue feel of Rokugan in a new setting. With so much to be discovered and explored, this is new territory even for the political characters as they try to push the influence and control of the Second City for their clans.

The next chapter discusses the movers and shakers of the setting including Otomo Suikihime, the notorious Imperial Governor and the various ministers of the setting. While strongly tied to the colonies, those who don't plan to use the setting can always transplant these characters into their own settings with little to no trouble.

The People of the Second City discuss the Great Clans and the Imperial Families. Again these are a host of NPCs that can be used to populate any campaign, and help paint a vibrant (and well populated) location.

Not to be forgotten, the minor clans and wave men of the setting also get their own chapter, discussing the opportunities and nature of their presence in this brave new frontier.

Fnially the last section discusses a smattering of new Paths for the Great Clans and Basic Schools for those native to the Ivory Kingdoms.

---

The Second City Boxed set is huge. It's also an impressive body of work to bring to life a new and exciting development to the L5R universe outside of traditional Rokugan.

While I have to admit that I was initially lukewarm to the idea of this sudden shift outside of the borders of the Empire, I do appreciate the advantages of changing the status quo in such a traditional society. The NPCs and locations presented in the Second City are all done by a team whose enthusiasm shines through, and I'm glad that the team has managed to make sure that none of these characters are mere caricatures.

The usefulness of the set for those who don't plan to use the Second City is still high, as even if you don't end up using the setting, the NPCs alone are worth the price of admission.

Those GMs who wish to have a campaign get their wish, and it's certainly one that spans the length of the Second City and the empire, with equal opportunities for politics, investigation and combat.

The two books are nice for flavor, and the journal makes for a great prop for the campaign. I'm ambivalent about the pillow book however, but it can still be useful for new players who aren't in the mood to slog through The City book.

Is the Second City Boxed Set worth the price as a PDF product? Definitely. There's a ton of detail here, and one could easily run a full campaign with just the contents of this box and the corebook and never look at another supplement again.

The Second City Boxed set continues the winning streak of the Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition supplements and I'm more than happy to say that it can certainly add tons of value to anyone's L5R Collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Second City Boxed Set
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The Gauntlet
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2012 13:26:48
The adventure is good and it would be worth a 4 Star rating. However, the presentation is IMPOSSIBLE. It is a staples removed scanned in product the size of a piece of paper folded in half from top to bottom. That would be fine except they did not arrange the pages into a readable fashion. So page 1 is on the right side while page 16 is on the same sheet. Page 2, switching sides from page 1, is on the left and page 15 is on the right. So to read this, you have to start at the front, read half pages to the end and then go BACKWARDS to read the second half of the adventure. Utter madness.

The adventure is pretty decent and is the only thing that saved this adventure from a 1 star rating. It really isn't even worth the 80 cents it is currently priced at. My apologizes to the authors who put time into this.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Gauntlet
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The Book of Air
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2012 21:52:00
The Book of Air is the first of a new line of sourcebooks for the Legend of the Five Rings series of books, that uses an interesting approach towards expanding the setting.

L5R has always been an interesting setting with regards to the depth and detail of the society of Rokugan, and this series of supplements expands on it by breaking down the topics according to the themes of the five elements of Rokugan: Air, Earth, Water, Fire and Void.

The Book of Air focuses on the facets that are relevant to the element of Air, as broken down into various chapters that look into War, the Court, Magic, Enlightenment and the Setting. The book also provides a self-contained setting that can be dropped into any existing campaign. New Mechanics are also present in the book to sate the needs of those who are looking for new rules to implement into their games. Needless to say, every clan gets something out of this book, so Crab and Lion players need not worry about being left out in a book that seems so focused on the softer side of Rokugani life.

I’m pleased to say that the organization of each of the chapters is very well done, with the book going into extensive detail with regards to the facet being discussed. The role of archery for example, is treated in the general form, then broken down into the various specific traditions of each of the clans. The chapters go into detail with regards to War, Courtly Politics, Magic (my favorite chapter due to the Kitsu Spirit Legion), Enlightenment, the world of Rokugan and a Politics-heavy Campaign setting.

Each of these are discussed without interrupting with mechanics. Instead all of the fluff is presented up front, and all the mechanics sorted out in the final chapter. This makes for an interesting format as it makes rules lookups so much easier, while letting people who enjoy the fluff (or need them, as with most GMs) read and digest the information without switching back and forth from concept to rules thinking in every other page or so.

The Book of Air is a worthy addition to the excellent Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition line, expanding on topics and lending even more detail to the unique nature of the clans. Given the quality of the writing, combined with excellent artwork and layout and the new format of organizing the information in the book, I find myself looking forward to the rest of the series.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Air
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Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2012 21:16:19
I have been playing Legend of the Five Rings off and on since I discovered the first edition of the game back in 1999. I have always been a fan of Japanese history, culture and folklore (no expert by any means, just a fan). Prior to finding this game I had become hooked on Rurouni Kenshin and I was looking for a game that captured the mythical and epic nature of medieval Japan. Legend of the Five Rings was the game that filled that need for me.

Prior editions of the game were tied intricately to the ongoing storyline which was being driven by the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game. While in a lot of ways this was a good thing it often left players of the RPG just a bit behind the curve when it came to developments in the setting, slaves to a game in which they had no say. The Fourth Edition of L5R has finally freed players from this burden and empowered players to enjoy the time frame in the setting they want to explore.

The second edition of the game was tied very closely to Dungeons & Dragons and overall it felt like an underdeveloped product although it did bring several interesting mechanics to the table. Third edition marked a separation from D&D but as time went on the game became more and more complicated to play. While no one can deny the quality of the game it was hard to play the game without feeling a bit overwhelmed. One of the major focuses of the fourth edition was returning the game to a simpler core set of rules which maintained the flavored development by previous editions without crippling players with an overpowering game system.

For the most part I feel the game succeeds at fulfilling that goal. I finally had a chance to play L5R 4E at GenCon 2012 and I walked away a very happy gamer. The system was easy to use but versatile enough to handle everything our group threw at the game master. Combat was fast, fun and deadly without being tedious to track. Each character was infused with the L5R flavor that we have come to know and love.

L5R 4E is a game that has finally come back into its own. AEG got everything right with this edition and once again I find myself 100% engaged with the product line.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
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Sophia's Daughters
by Mark E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2012 19:19:35
This book was one of the biggest let-downs of the entire game. Put forth as 'swashbuckling feminists' it instead traded women's subserviance to men for women's subserviance to the Sidhe. These are no longer free willed women who chart the course of their own destiny, they, instead, act at the behest of their 'benevolant masters' in some uber-secret war which was never discussed in any previous books.

Add to that the inclusion of a 'male SD' group which is stunningly game breaking all on its lonesome combined with a new form of magic which allows all the females of the SD to bypass any roleplaying in favor of forcing the GM to tell them who the bad guy is right away, and you begin to understand how poorly thought out this book is.

It's quite obvious the author has a soft spot for 'elves' as the capricious and often evil Sidhe are given a makeover which places them firmly in the "we're here to rescue the poor humans who couldn't possibly figure this out on their own" camp. And the book suffers for that.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Sophia's Daughters
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The Sidhe Book of Nightmares
by Mark E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2012 19:06:13
While I understand the desire to more fully flesh out parts of the game that are not initially discussed, this book proceeds to give undue abilities to PCs in such a game-imbalancing manner it quickly becomes obvious there was no playtesting for this product. Stick with the earlier books and save yourself the cost of this.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Sidhe Book of Nightmares
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Legend of the Burning Sands
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/07/2012 00:44:47
After what seemed to be an eternity, Alderac has finally released the PDF version of the sought after Legend of the Burning Sands RPG into the wild.

Released back in the days of 3rd Edition L5R, Legend of the Burning Sands (LBS) was a huge thing for me when it came out as it broadened the scope of L5R's setting of Rokugan, and introduced new cultures and factions that were all interesting and potentially fun to play.

LBS takes place in Rokugan's sister setting, the Burning Sands. Despite sharing the same "World" the Burning Sands was an entirely different setting with it's own cultural norms and societies that are a far cry from the asian-inspired nature of Rokugan.

The Burning Sands is a harsh desert that holds multiple cultures, whose lives revolve around Medinat al-Salaam, the massive city ruled by the Caliph. Nine factions exist in the city: The Khadi, Qolat, the Ashalan, the Assassins, the Ebonites, The Jackals, the Ra'Shari, the Senpet and the Yodotai.

The city of Medinaat Al-Saalam is the focus of the game, and constitutes the majority of the attention to the setting. Everything from demographics to economics is given attention, and there's enough material for a GM to spin off more than enough plot hooks for a lengthy campaign.

Of these factions, seven are given a chapter to themselves. These are the Ashalan, Assassins, Ra'Shari, Senpet, Yodotai, Jackals and Ebonites, and compose the playable factions in the game. Each of these are given a thorough treatment which include their histories, secrets, methods and techniques unique to each faction.

The system is pretty much the Roll and Keep system with minor tweaks aimed towards showing how magic here is very different from importuning Kami in Rokugan. Familiarity with L5R is nice, but the system is treated in full as to not require the L5R corebook to run a game.

There's also a bestiary of the local wildlife, and a Jinn creation system to simulate these mysterious (and dangerous) beings native to the Burning Sands.

Legend of the Burning Sands is stuffed with information, and sometimes it feels that the artwork had to be sacrificed to make space. There's art for each of the factions, but aside from that, there's very little else out there. I don't mind, but it might intimidate a few readers who aren't used to seeing walls of text.

---

Despite its age, I still recommend Legend of the Burning Sands. It works well as both a standalone product and as a supplement for the L5R games, and introduces an entirely different setting with its own interesting cultures. The setting is still every bit as interesting and compelling as it was the first time I picked it up as a CCG, and I'm more than happy to see that I can now run my own adventures in the Burning Sands in tabletop form.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Burning Sands
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Legend Of The Five Rings Live Action Role-Playing Game
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2012 17:34:37
Just on a read-through, this game looks rather good. Having played Mind's Eye Theatre, a game with a similar rules ethic (ie card pulls instead of hard skill), I can tell it's something that would work in practice. The information is well presented and clear, and I never got lost reading it.

A big problem I have is that the book promises a section on costuming, but doesn't deliver on this. It's a shame, because it's something that open-book LRP books tend not to delve into enough. It doesn't really detract from the presentation of the book or the quality of the game information, so this isn't a major thing.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend Of The Five Rings Live Action Role-Playing Game
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Brave New World
by Antonio M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2012 08:18:29
Overall, I'd have to say this is a pretty well made game. The system isn't the greatest I've seen and definitely not the most "statistically accurate" if you can call a system that. Basically, it's a pretty simple system resulting in a simple game. The reason this game stands a head above a lot of other games is simply because of the setting. This game is worth the money just for the first about 50 - 100 pages where it describes the setting, characters, and how everything happened. Also the last few pages deal with what is not revealed in the beginning, the secrets and is only for the GM to read. What makes this game great since the system is so simple, you could actual integrate your favorite system into this pretty flawlessly. All you'd have to do really is change a few feats around and the stats and your good to go. All in all, this game is worth the money just because the setting alone. It's a simple system which is fun, but also allows for an easy integration of another system with one of the best settings I've ever read.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brave New World
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Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2012 19:45:11
Strongholds of the Empire is yet another essential addition to any L5R 4th Edition Library. Any of the cities presented could spawn several dozen different campaigns that don’t even need to go beyond the city walls. There’s plenty of conflict and politics to go around, and for the ambitious, there’s always the extra challenge of playing in a campaign set in Toshi Ranbo, the Imperial City that is shared between the Lion and the Crane.

Well written, beautifully illustrated, and very useful for new and experienced L5R GMs and players alike, Strongholds of the Empire is a strong first entry into PDF sourcebooks, and I can only hope that Alderac continues to publish in this format.

---

This is an excerpt from the full review on my blog, if you'd like to read the full article, please visit:
http://philgamer.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/legend-of-the--
five-rings-review-strongholds-of-the-empire/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend of the Five Rings: Strongholds of the Empire
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The Last Gods
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/05/2012 08:36:28
With potentially world-shaking import, here's a real cracker of a stand-alone adventure to drop into your campaign just when your characters think that all they have to worry is about whose turn it is to cook over the campfire...

So, there the party is, sitting around said campfire when a robed figure clutching a sythe turns up! But he hasn't come for anyone's soul, it's a bit more of a challenge than that. As he crumbles away before their very eyes, he asks them to take on a quest to save the very fabric of the universe itself. Assuming they don't dismiss this apparation as something brought about by those dodgy mushrooms the elf insisted on adding to the stew, they have an incredible adventure ahead of them, with all to play for and the very universe at stake.

Perhaps inevitable when gods start interfering in the characters' affairs, but there is a fair element of railroading once they embark on this adventure. A single path to follow, arbitrary effects that WILL happen and which there's nothing that they can do anything about... things that will annoy some players, but - for those prepared to enter into the spirit of the thing - events that bring home the fact that this time they are messing with things that are truly beyond mortal comprehension, even for relatively high-level fellows like themselves. As you'd expect, the combat encounters are physically challenging, but the main thrust of events involves a lot of puzzles to solve - something else that some players find annoying but others relish. Solving them should prove entertaining, and they can all be solved, even if you may find the need to drop the odd hint here and there.

It is, and intended to be, a strange adventure, not the regular sort of affair that goes to make up a normal campaign. It has the potential, if well handled and entered into in the right spirit, to be something that those who venture through it will talk about - in character and out - for years to come. Some players, as mentioned before, will find it a frustrating or even dull experience. That's the trouble of messing with the affairs of deities. They don't think like you or I do, and this adventure gets this across well.

It will work best - although it is truly a stand-alone event - if inserted into your regular campaign, and played through with your usual characters, than run as a one-off. For there are times when players will see their cherished characters at dire risk, maybe even having to contemplate making the ultimate sacrifice - and by that I mean, choosing to do so, not just risking all in a brawl. Moments that can become the highlights of your shared storytelling.

If everything goes wrong, and they fail to complete the quest, say it's a shared dream and blame it on those mushrooms! Yet if they complete their mission, they all will have something quite unusual to look back on as they break camp and continue on their merry way.

[A note on the rating: This adventure is one that will be either loved or hated - I've given it 5 stars, as it could be THAT good with a group for which it works. Just remember: it may not be to your taste!]

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Last Gods
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The Heart of Amun Khonshu
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2012 10:18:45
A neat little adventure to slot in when you haven't had much prep time or there's a lull in the ongoing campaign, this is designed to entertain your players for an evening's play. All you need to do is have the characters in a city near a desert then sucker them into going for an ale one evening and then...

The premise is simple. Out in that handy desert there is an ancient tomb with rich pickings to be had by any willing to brave a little danger. As encouragement, the informant has a classic sob story to tell about his lifelong friend who lies at death's door and can only be saved by an artefact he believes is hidden in this tomb - everything else the characters may take for themselves. Who could resist?

Assuming the characters take the bait, er, I mean, decide to aid this worthy cause, they'll need to travel across the desert to the tomb. That bit is left to you, gloss over it or throw sand, sun and suffering at them as you please. There are plenty of resources to help you deal with desert travel if required. The tomb is, however, detailed comprehensively, as befits the focus of the adventure. It depends on how much time you have and the way in which you wish to present things - and how it all fits in with anything else that might be going on in your campaign.

The tomb itself, whilst somewhat reminiscent of something found in Ancient Egypt, is well-constructed from a fantasy point of view which an array of obstacles to keep tomb-raiders at bay. There's plenty to keep the characters occupied, without being too frustrating... at least, provided they are willing to put in some hard work to excavate the tomb properly.

Most monsters herein are relatively familiar, but there is a useful new one well suited to any formal tomb of a devotee of a cult that believes you and your possessions can pass on to an afterlife, the artefact itself (which has plenty more plot potential even after you've retrieved it), not to mention the occupant of the tomb who, shall we say, may well object to anyone having the temerity to disturb his eternal rest.

It's a neat package to use as a one-off game or a side-adventure dropped into a campaign at a suitable moment. With a bit of care and advance prepartion - such as finding reference to the artefact or encountering a situation in which it could be of use independently of a fellow in an inn enlisting the characters' aid, the adventure could be woven into your overarching plot.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Heart of Amun Khonshu
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