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Slayer's Guide Compendium, Volume I
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 03:48:58

Where is the map for the Hobgoblin Fort? I bought this crappy product just for the Fort! Maybe the rest of the product is good, but the the lack of a map and a coherent key makes this pdf a waste of money. Old School Mongoose at its slack best!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Slayer's Guide Compendium, Volume I
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The Quintessential Dwarf
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2013 19:02:48

The book is serviceable but has one fairly major flaw in that some of the subheading fonts don't show up properly. Partially words with letters dropped out randomly are the norm in for sub headings in the later part of the book and it is kind of annoying. Then again the discounted price is nice so I really can't complain.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Quintessential Dwarf
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Legend/Deus Vult: The Heresiarch of Troyes
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2013 12:09:04

An epic adventure that pits the party against a demonic force that drives victims mad and convinces them that they have achieved their heart's desire... and takes them around mediaeval France and particularly the teeming city of Troyes.


An interesting approach has been taken, with interludes in which the players take on the roles of people who have already fallen under the demon's control, taking on a dreamlike quality that will have them questioning just what is going on... most insiduous, these demons! Neatly, later on this will make a horrible kind of sense as they find out what really took place during this dream-time interlude. The penultimate combat can be run one of two ways, depending on whether the players have figured it all out.


The adventure opens with one such interlude, then the player's own characters are tasked with investigating a heresy that has cropped up recently in Troyes. Four men have already been sent to look into the matter, but have not as yet reported back, and their superiors are getting a bit worried. So they are sent first to Paris to gain information about the heresy and thence to Troyes...


And this is where the fun starts, because the party is very much on the clock. There is a tight timeline of events regarding the demon's activities which will continue whatever the characters do until they put a stop to it. Every day spent on the road, clearing up the mess they'll find in Paris or anything else will let the heresy grow in strength.


Evocative descriptions abound, particularly of the cities of Paris and Troyes, creating a realistic backdrop to the adventure. There are good opportunities for investigation as well as for combat, and the party should find themselves challenged, indeed hard-pressed as event piles on event relentlessly... yet able, provided they keep their heads and say their prayers, to triumph in the end. They will feel that they have earned their victory, and justifiably so.


This adventure should keep everyone on the edge of their seats, challenging them to understand what is going on and to find effective ways of dealing with the problem before time runs out... there are so many neat twists that it's hard to write a decent review without giving too much away!


Thoroughly recommended, indeed it's good enough to recommend you look into the Deus Vult setting for Legend if you have not yet done so!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend/Deus Vult: The Heresiarch of Troyes
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Supplement 13: Starport Encounters
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2013 12:03:34

Remarkably useful to any Traveller referee, this product provides a whole bunch of resources to aid in the creation of rich background detail, much of which have the potential to become an adventure in themselves. It comprises three sections: Starcrews, Cargoes and Fellow Travellers.


Starcrews provides details on those who work in space. They can be used to fill out a crew, as fellow patrons in a starport bar or.. well, turning up anywhere that fills your needs. But before we get to them, this section begins with various notes about starships and their crews and even a selection of starcrew slang and material to help you flesh out the ones you choose to use.


The section is then divided into sections based on the ship each crew works, beginning with Scouts/Couriers and continuing with Traders, Naval Ships and a catchall Others category. Each entry gives the name of the ship itself and those of the crew (or the more significant ones in the case of those ships with a large complement). Then there is some referee information about that ship and crew, and adventure hooks should you wish them to be more than just another ship in the distance. The way in which this is done means that if, for example, one of the characters gets into conversation with a crewmember in a bar, you are equipped with the background information you'll need for a lively conversation rather than frantic head-scratching to come up with details to answer likely questions such as "Which is your ship?" or "What cargo are you carrying?"


Speaking of cargoes, that is the focus of the next section. This consists of information to aid you in fleshing out cargoes to far more than mere dtons and value. Is it dangerous, or does it require feeding? There are a lot of notes about using cargoes creatively to enliven or even comprise adventures with, in true Traveller tradition, quite a few tables on which to roll. The discussion moves on to different cargo types: natural resources, processed resources, manufactured goods, information and novelties. The initial discussion covers 'HazMat' style warning signs that may be affixed to a consignment, and these are used throughout the listings to indicate possible threats that they may pose in transit. There are notes for each cargo listed to make them even more interesting (and perhaps adventure-worthy). Finally, if nothing catches your eye or you are in a rush to come up with a cargo, there is a set of tables for generating cargoes in considerable detail from a few die rolls. Trade need never be boring again!


The final section is Fellow Travellers. These are the people who, like the character themselves, spend at least part of their time roaming the spacelanes. If the characters take passage on a ship, some of these may be fellow passengers; if their ship offers passage these folk may buy tickets to travel with them. (One of my characters is chef on a ship that offers a high standard of service - it is surprising what adventures you can have with this concept... and my referee hasn't got a copy of this book yet, the game's been going a year or so and as I write this has just been published!) Fellow Travellers are classified by the passage purchased - High or Middle - and by whether they are travelling in a group or by themselves. Each comes with UPP and copious notes about their background, reasons for travelling and even how he's likely to behave, making role-playing him extremely easy.


A very useful resource that ought to grace evey Traveller referee's bookshelf (or hard drive).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 13: Starport Encounters
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Starports
by Jacob R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2013 17:35:26

Starports is a great supplement for Traveller. Consider that PCs will spend a great amount of time at one, and that thus far we didn't really have any maps for them. Included are several maps of new stations, what you can expect at an average station, a list of encounters and even cool story plots for each of the presented stations.


The artwork is great, the book is organized in a manner that exceeds most of Mongoose' releases. I recommend this as a resource for any science fiction game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starports
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Far Flung Seas
by Chris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2013 10:20:20

I was disappointed with this product. Primarily bought because it has an 'Operational Campaign' system, but this turns out to be incomplete and the player is left filling in the gaps in the rules. The new navy lists are welcome, but most are incomplete and are missing significant classes of ships. And don't expect much support; messages left on the publisher's forum, and emails, asking if there is an errata, or any supplementary materials to resolve these issues, have gone unanswered. I am glad I have the supplement, and the information that is in it will be useful, but it is incomplete and does not live up to the expectations generated by the description.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Far Flung Seas
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Legend: The Spider God's Bride
by Mikko M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2013 15:58:25

Very good piece of work, and true to the sword and sorcery theme, strongly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend: The Spider God's Bride
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Spinward Marches Map Pack
by Nathan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2013 22:08:51

Essentially a one-page PDF showing the Spinward Marches sector. Nothing new or noteworthy here. Same format and style we have seen since the Spinward Marches Map in 1980.


Here's how this would have earned four or five stars with me:



8-12 pages of additional info. Maybe not planetary data but an analysis of the sector, adventure hooks, Library Data, SOMETHING to flesh it out a little.


It is formatted as an 8.5x11" sheet not the original poster size. that means I can't print it across multiple pages to retain the size of the original and maintain resolution


Not that I'd print it anyway! It's all black with white hexes. As a PDF it would be nice, even essential, to reverse the colors so that I could print this without using $40 in toner!


Layers; none. there would be an added utility if I could turn on/off layers such as starport data, amber zones, etc. so that I might add a "fog of war" to challenge the players.



All-in-all, you get a one-page utilitarian sector map with no interactivity. It has some use if used with the Spinward Marches sourcebook, but there are better mapping tools out there that are free and allow for much more flexibility.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Spinward Marches Map Pack
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Solomani Rim Map Pack
by Nathan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2013 22:06:31

Essentially a one-page PDF showing the Solomani Rim sector. Nothing new or noteworthy here. Same format and style we have seen since the Spinward Marches Map in 1980.


Here's how this would have earned four or five stars with me:



8-12 pages of additional info. Maybe not planetary data but an analysis of the sector, adventure hooks, Library Data, SOMETHING to flesh it out a little.


It is formatted as an 8.5x11" sheet not the original poster size. that means I can't print it across multiple pages to retain the size of the original and maintain resolution


Not that I'd print it anyway! It's all black with white hexes. As a PDF it would be nice, even essential, to reverse the colors so that I could print this without using $40 in toner!


Layers; none. there would be an added utility if I could turn on/off layers such as starport data, amber zones, etc. so that I might add a "fog of war" to challenge the players.



All-in-all, you get a one-page utilitarian sector map with no interactivity. There are better mapping tools out there that are free and allow for much more flexibility.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Solomani Rim Map Pack
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Wayfarers Players's Reference Book
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2013 23:28:08

Wayfarers is pretty easy to describe--it's a classless, point-buy version of Dungeons and Dragons, with some inspiration taken from d20 games but mostly rooted in the 2nd Edition-era and earlier game. This sounds like it should be my perfect fantasy game, but unfortunately, the book falls down on a few levels and I can't award it more than 3 stars.


The actual system isn't bad. Since it's based on Dungeons and Dragons, everything is familiar. The primary roll for determining success is the d20, weapons have variable damage (slightly higher than in either 2nd or 3rd edition), character abilities are defined by "proficiencies" and "disciplines" (essentially Skills and Feats) and so on. None of that is any different.


The primary difference comes in with the advancement system. As I said, Wayfarers is classless, and so the advancement is more similar to games like The World of Darkness where the GM awards between 1 to 5 "skill points" at the end of each adventure or session, and then they're spent on the proficiencies and disciplines.


The proficiencies have a neat mechanic that prevents the 2nd edition and lower problem of incompetence or the d20 problem of people ending up with such different bonuses that they can't meaningfully interact. Each proficiency has four grades, and each grade lets you roll an extra d20 and just take the highest out of the pool for your roll. So, it's still possible for a callow youth to beat a grizzled master, it's just vanishingly unlikely unless they really stack the deck.


The benefit of being built from the ground-up as a point-buy system means that abilites with different usefulness have different costs. Beginning with magic will use up most of a starting characer's capabilities, for example, and since the system of Dungeons and Dragons and derived games has historically focused on exploration and combat, abilities dealing with that aspect can cost more than abilities dealing with, say, underwater basketweaving.


The problem comes in with the way it deals with--and doesn't deal with--the costs. One of the major problems it inherits from d20 games is the primacy of spellcasters. If you look at the Table of Contents, you'll notice quite quickly that the vast majority of the book is devoted to spells--pages 42-164 out of 178 (the last portion of the book is an appendix and charts). The vast majority of the book is completely useless to anyone who doesn't use magic, and the sample characters reflect this: out of 8 sample characters, 7 of them can use magic of some sort.


Furthermore, the point-buy system completely breaks down when dealing with magic because new spells don't cost any points at all. That means that wizards and priests can rapidly gain utility and combat effectiveness faster than non-magicians. Here's the math:


Take a character who wants to be the best warrior ever with a longsword. Here's what she buys.
Weapon Mastery Grade V, Class E: 30 points
Multiple Attacks Grade IV, Class E: 26 points
Parrying, Class E: 4 points
Quick Draw: 3 points
Greatstrike, Class E: 6 points
Critical Hit, Class E: 6 poines
Disarm, Class E: 5 points
Counterattack, Class E: 5 points
Feint: 4 points
Evasion: 5 points
Armor Use, Grade V: 30 points
Advanced Counterattack: 8 points
Calculated Strike: 6 points
Increased Accuracy, Grade V: 45 points
Rush, Class E: 5 points
Stunning Blow, Class E: 3 points
Vital Strike, Class E: 20 points
Whirlwind Attack, Class E: 6 points
Health Point: 10 points (1 per level)
Split Attacks, Class E: 4 points
Total: 231 points


Now take the hermetic wizard. Here's what he buys:
Hermetic Magic Potential: 17 points
Magic Potency, Grade V: 30 points
Spell Circle (Hermetic), Grade VIII: 91 points
Additional spells for max Circle: 19 points
Extra Spell, Grade VIII: 44 points
Combat Casting: 5 points
Silent Casting, Grade V: 30 points
Total: 236 points


So it costs the wizard 236 points to gain all the relevant magic powers, and the warrior 231 points to gain all the relevant combat powers with her sword. I've left off stuff they'd probably both want to buy, like Improved Initiative, Improved Dodge, Increased Resistance, Increased Attribute, or proficiencies. And yes, it costs the wizard more points, but for spending all those points, the wizard's capabilites include "know anything" and "do anything"--literally, through the spells Cognizance and Change, respectively. The warrior's abilities include "longswording better than everyone else," which is pretty nice, but doesn't help against armies, flying enemies, or enemies who can teleport, or remove the warrior's sword, or fill the room full of water, etc.


There are actually multiple types of magic, if I haven't been clear about that. The wizard-like Hermetic magic, cleric-like Faith magic, illusionist Hedge magic, and sacrifice-based or druidic Ritual magic. The first two have eight levels of spells, and the second two have only five. But all of them have the problem that they don't charge any skill points to learn new spells.


It's basically the same problem as d20 where things start off okay, but due to LFQW, the longer the game goes on, the farther ahead the wizard pulls until eventually the fighters might as well just go home. Not that it matters, because the wizard's summoned monsters can just take the fighter's place anyway.


Normally, this wouldn't matter in a point-buy system, but not charging for spells means the point costs are inherently screwed up. Standard D&D magic that starts at "throwing magic missiles" and ends with "do anything" really needs to be appropriately priced in order to actually make sense in a point-buy context, otherwise you end up with each point spent not actually being equal--buying magic gets you more bang for your buck.


There's always the solution the sample characters took, which is to just knuckle under and become wizards or priests, but that's hardly satisfying.


Wayfarers could have been an excellent alternative to class and level-based Dungeons and Dragons for people like myself who prefer skill-based systems, but unfortunately, the assumptions behind the costs means I can't recommend it. It's excellent for inspiration to build your own point-based D&D, but unless you like caster supremacy or have a group that's amiable enough to get along and has enough system mastery that they won't accidentally stumble into an Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit situation, don't run it as written.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wayfarers Players's Reference Book
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2300AD: Salvage Rights
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2013 04:26:20

Salvage Rights starts with those funny, friendly little Pentapods and then tells you about things like Bishops, kernels and Dark Gods. Brr. Who needs Ka(e)fers with these guys on the doorstep?


Although the weather is just as unpleasant as the previous episode, this feels like quite a shift of pace.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Salvage Rights
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2300AD: Salvage Rights
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2013 11:33:11

This is an exciting adventure that provides plenty of scope for investigation, combat and exploration. It leads on from the adventure Rescue Run and will not make quite so much sense - or provide real reasons for the characters to bother getting involved - if you have not already played it.


As the name suggests, it is based around the concept of salvage as understood by different species. You or I - and likely your party - think of it as discovering and retrieving something that is no longer operational but still has value (either to its original owners or as scrap). Aliens may hold a different opinion as to what salvage is and how to go about it... and the characters will have to come to grips with this as, shall we say, they are not the only folks interested in their target.


There's plenty of less-cerebral action too, including a terrorist raid to fend off! Everything is well-resourced, with maps and background information a-plenty to help you make the various scenes of the adventure come to life. However, the clue chain is fragile and you will need to take care that the characters are not left at a dead end if things go against them. Plenty of additional information too, the sort that will be useful time and time again - places that can be revisited and equipment that may become part of the characters' regular load-out, as well as quite deep background on alien thought and equipment and on the aforementioned terrorist group.


This should prove an exciting and memorable adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stormbringer Companion 2: Demon Magic (1st Ed.)
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2013 12:51:54

For those as old in the RPG hobby as me... this is a GREAT product for Stormbringer. If you loved the ideas from Call of Cthulhu, and love the writings of Michael Moorcock... say hello to the ultimate fusion of both.... now you too can drive your sorcerer character mad, mad, mad. Why not enjoy the addition of a little extra madness to the Stormbringer setting?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stormbringer Companion 2: Demon Magic (1st Ed.)
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Traveller Main Rulebook
by Sean D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2013 14:50:17

Excellent - a wonderful re-working of a classic! It's clear and succinct, but has a lot of depth and flexibility. My only niggle is the illustrations - they're too 'cartoonish'



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Main Rulebook
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Character Portraits: Fantasy Heroes
by Robert G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2013 22:04:48

The quality of the art is uneven, but with so many portraits, it's hard to fault the selection. My complaints are primarily about the presentation. The graphics are all loaded into a single PDF. The instructions for getting the pictures out are for a professional Adobe product. I tried using copy and paste in Adobe Reader, but the graphics are obscured by decorative rectangular frames and it is impossible. I tried to open the file in LibreOffice, but discovered that inexplicably, the file has password protection. The only way I have been able to get at the pictures is to use a screenshot, or use GIMP to import a JPEG, resulting in lower quality images with an unwanted border graphic. I rate this product poorly because it is almost impossible to use with any of a half dozen programs I have available to me to manipulate PDFs.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Character Portraits: Fantasy Heroes
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