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Feudal Characters: Noble
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/13/2008 10:15:30

There are a number of significant changes between the new 4e GSL system and the OGL rules, one of the more notable ones being the class system and the associated system of powers. Under the OGL system, designing a class wasn't a particularly cumbersome task, as long as you could create an interesting and viable class with 20 levels and provide the associated spells, abilities and feats for the class as required. Under the new 4e GSL rules, designing a class takes more time and effort simply because you need to provide enough powers and feats for the class, including associated material like builds, class specific abilities and the like.


When I first saw Alea Publishing's Feudal Characters: Noble, I'll admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. A 'noble' as such is not really a class, at least not within the classes and their roles as defined in the GSL system. On the other hand, given the very much perceived weaknesses of the GSL's social system, I was intrigued to see what Alea Publishing would offer for an inherently social class. Most powers, barring sometimes the utility powers, are largely associated with combat, so the combination of a social class by definition and 'combat' powers would be interesting. Having seen what Alea Publishing have done, I was pleasantly surprised by the approach, creativity and neatness of what they'd done with the class.


Feudal Characters: Noble is a 16 page pdf product that presents a new class for the Feudal Lands campaign setting from Alea Publishing Group. This product is one of the first Feudal Lands products for the 4e GSL system, although several products have been produced for the campaign setting under the OGL rules (which I believe are to be updated to 4e GSL rules). This product is excellently presented, with a high standard of writing, layout, editing and general style of presentation. Some good illustrations are provided by Denise Garner, and the product includes a excellent cover, useful bookmarks and an attractive bordering to the pages in the layout. Overall, the product has a bit of eye-candy associated with it, and is done to a professional quality standard.


The noble class as a concept is fairly self-explanatory - a character born into or bestowed nobility and likely with that associated land, titles and other benefits of the status. The class itself is implemented as a multiclass rather than a base class, and I think that's a neat way of using the GSL multiclassing system. After all, nobles are not associated with any particular class, but the benefits of nobility can be obtained via a noble multiclass. In this way, more powerful nobles or lesser nobles can have varying degrees of multiclass powers, further providing a good solution to how to mechanically implement the noble class. I think this is an elegant choice, and whatever your thoughts on GSL multiclassing, I think this is an instance where it works really well.


Barring providing the multiclass noble feat for access to the noble's powers, the majority of the product, as one would really expect, is a long list of various daily, encounter and utility powers. Power cards are usefully provided at the end of the product for all the noble's powers. The powers are all based on a new power source, the bloodline power source, and a fair number of the noble's powers deal psychic damage. The powers themselves contain a fair mix of different flavors and descriptions, although the majority of them are unfortunately very combat focused. Some of the utility powers are focused on skill challenges, which I thought was a useful way of building the social aspects of the class.


Of the combat powers most seemed fairly balanced, although if you've read all the powers in the core books, the majority of the noble's powers are similar abilities in a different guise. Powers are based on such aspects of the noble's stature such as speech, commanding presence and the like, much like one would expect. In a way, and likely a good way, the noble's combat powers are very similar to those a knight would have. As always, roleplaying goes a long way in developing these powers for a specific character or noble concept. The latter half of the product includes a noble template as well as a new monster, the typical human knight. It's a rather odd, but descriptive name for a monster, but useful nonetheless.


Overall, I think this is a class where the approach taken as a multiclass pays of, and illustrates a good way of using the GSL multiclassing system. The powers themselves are mostly good, though perhaps a bit repetitive, but I'd hoped to see more playing with the social aspects of what the noble class entails. Nevertheless, I think the few social utility powers, the training provided to nobles in social skills, and general roleplaying will make this a multiclass that can work well in game. Alea Publishing Group have provided a clever approach to creating new concepts and classes by using the multiclass system. A good, strong product, with clever design and a very usable class.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feudal Characters: Noble
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Feudal Characters: Noble
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2008 02:37:05

I have to agree with Robert. This is by far one of the best third party classes I have found. It's well balanced without being weak and it adds some flavor into your games. This is definitely a buy! Especially if you want them to be able to afford to keep making these :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feudal Characters: Noble
by Robert D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2008 13:58:13

This is a gorgeous, well laid out and well presented product, possibly the best produced 4e product I've seen from a third party publisher yet.


The contents are strong, but not quite as strong as the production. Designed as a multiclass (like the spellplagued in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide) rather than a full class, it offers all the powers necessary for that, but also provides a template and a sample NPC, both of which greatly increase the utility of this product. The inclusion of power cards for the abilities are a very nice touch.


The powers themselves are clever, though a little uneven. I am not 100% sure they are all intended to work exactly as they read, with the biggest disconnect coming from powers that require the target can hear you. There are also a few 3.x-isms that could be shaken off. Still, they're definitely much more good than bad.


With another round of smoothing of the powers, and the inclusion of either some at-will powers or a paragon path (the lack of these being a little jarring against he otherwise very complete contents) this could easily be a 5 star product, and even without that, it was worth my three bucks. I definitely will be lookign to see what Alea Publishing does in the future.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Household Knight Character Class
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2008 22:42:20

Very impressive! I can't wai to see more from this company and game line. The graphic design was amazing and very professional. Plus it fits in very well with their other products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Household Knight Character Class
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APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
by Jason G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2008 15:32:01

My first time buying paper minis, and I like the results. Sharp images printed nicely from my printer. Authentic design for those of us looking for more realistic images.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
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Studio Companion: Dixon and Rhead
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 10:34:40

Nice selection of primarily copyirhgt-expired/pre-copyright open domain art which has previously served to illustrate the Arthurian tales. Not specifically sure of their origin, but the range is very nice, and will work well if you want to evoke a sense of the medieval and classic knights in your document. The scans transferred very well, too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Studio Companion: Dixon and Rhead
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APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
by Morris E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2008 08:59:24

Great rendiyions. An excellent set of figures to add to your RPG.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
APG Paper Figures: Military Orders ($1.00)
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Classes and Races of Cthonia
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2008 07:37:23

An incredibly well done product! The more and more I see from this company the more and more I am impressed. If you are looking for more "realistic" or "traditional" D20 material, then I think you will enjoy this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Classes and Races of Cthonia
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Classes and Races of Cthonia
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/25/2008 11:28:09

Classes and Races of Cthonia is a d20 supplement from Alea Publishing. The zipped file isn’t quite six megabytes in size, and contains a single PDF of the book. The product itself is sixty-five pages long, and has full bookmarks for easy navigation.


In terms of artwork, this book lives up to the high standards set by Alea’s earlier releases. Seemingly every page is overflowing with beautiful design, from the page borders to the background shading, even the page numbers are designed to be enjoyable to look at. Clearly, this is a book with high production values. The only problem with having such a plethora of art is that this book isn’t printer-friendly at all. With no black-and-white or even text version present, if you want a physical copy of Classes and Races of Cthonia, you may be in for a hard time.


The book itself is a deftly weaved blend of crunch and fluff. While the majority of the information here seems to fall into the crunch section, quite a bit of fluff about the world of Terra is presented also. For example, the classes chapter presents both new classes, and altered rules for existing classes, but even classes with no mechanical changes get several paragraphs of descriptive text talking about what these classes look like in this campaign setting. For those who don’t know, the Feudal Lords setting is intended to mimic medieval Europe more closely than mainstream Fantasy d20. Humans are the dominant race, with most others being marginalized. There’s only one mainstream religion, with all others being declared heretical. Arcane magic is seen as blasphemous, and there are religious inquisitions against those who practice it.


The interesting aspect of the book is how the rules are set up to help give the aforementioned tropes a life of their own. Druids have trouble using their magic in urban areas, for example. Dark powers can grant you feats at will if you’re willing to make dark deals with them (vile pact feats), inquisitors are a class unto themselves, and more. Some of these rules will be familiar to players of Modern d20, such as blood points (action points by another name) and starting occupations, but Alea makes them work quite nicely in the campaign they’ve laid out here. This is low-magic without retooling the entire d20 system, and without the game descending into “low action” as a result.


All in all, Classes and Races of Cthonia does a great job painting a picture of the Feudal Lords game world, presenting the mechanics and the flavor necessary to run things. Some folks might wish there was some more world-specific information herein (such as a listing of kingdoms and histories), but that seems to be outside the scope of this book. If you’re looking for a medieval fantasy game that’s still recognizably d20, this is absolutely worth paying attention to.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
APG City Tiles
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2008 22:48:09

These are OK-they're not Skeleton Key by any stretch of the imagination, being too boxy, but the fact is that they are the only attempt to put a town onto tile form.


However, they are some very basic village buildins-an outdoor eatery, a small inn, a half-dozen simple homes. No other businesses, or similar items. You can do a small village, but that's about it. Hopefully there will be follow-on sets.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
APG City Tiles
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Heraldry: Web Enhancement
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2008 17:21:19

Another excellent product that has me more and more interested in the setting. Keep up the great work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heraldry: Web Enhancement
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Piety: Web Enhancement
by Louis P. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2008 17:20:17

This was a great free product and has gotten me interested to see more of the setting and campaign world. Keep up the great work!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Piety: Web Enhancement
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The Whisper of Horses
by Dave H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2008 15:35:41

A very nice modern horror game. There are multi-media components and the quality is fairly good. The editing was a bit less than perfect. Some of the encounter were a little clunky. Overall it's a nice concept and well executed.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Whisper of Horses
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Caldor: City of Crossroads
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2007 10:21:43

After reading Caldor: City of Crossroads, I was a bit upset that I did not find the kitchen sink download in my email. I mean, after all, they seemed to include everything else.


Caldor: City of Crossroads is a detailed, yet concise account of a city based in a fantasy Roman atmosphere. It is meant to be used with the feudal lords system but this city can be tweaked to fit in any setting.


The question is not what will you find in City of Crossroads but what is not there. This reviewer could not find a single thing that could not come I wished that city pdfs would come with battlemaps and low and behold there are battlemaps. I wished that city pdfs would come with some more descriptive adventures and they are included as well. Other documents include a nice sized 40pg PDF detailing every district in town and all of the customs and laws of the land. Also included in this is a map of the city that defines the districts and visiting spots. If that was not enough you also get both a DM guide filled with adventure ideas and a PC guide so that PCs do not get that familiar feeling of loss when they enter a city.


For the DM: There is a crime section in the main book that discusses the crimes that can be commited, their punishments and how the judicial system works. Also, do not skip over the section on Roman bath houses which is also nicely written.


For the Player: This type of book usually has nothing for the player, but the players guide is a nice touch on where to go from blackmarket stuff to temples.


The Iron Word: The only thing holding this product back from being perfect is that its designed for a specific setting. Otherwise they have included everything any DM would want when their PCs go to a city and you do not have one prepared. Best of all, you do not get the downtime that normally occurs as you scour through the documentation so that you are not as loss in this new town as the PCs. This is a product you can pick up and truly use at your gaming table on the fly if you use such a setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caldor: City of Crossroads
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APG City Tiles
by Bo V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2007 07:55:19

Its not fancy.


Everything is set up to fit within the limits of a PDF page with a grid overlay appropriate for miniatures use. There is a little introductory page and a comment about medieval buildings, one page of grass, a couple of cobble road graphics and more than a dozen graphics of building interiors suitable to inhabit with miniatures. The product has no NPC's, monsters or separate item cards.


The art and presentation is reasonable but very straightforward - everything is aligned in straight lines with the page for example. The product feels like the result of a dunjinni session or two. Its worth it, if you want to save yourself the work of making the graphics yourself or perhaps if you are playing online and need some rooms quickly.


Its intended to be printed and placed on a table. The pictures are clear and 300dpi for crisp printing. It is the creation of a graphic program not a great resource for other graphics programs. There are no pages with just items, clipart or other doodads - if you like making digital graphics you should go elsewhere. If you just want a few extra tiles for your strategic layouts or a floor mat on which to show off your miniatures this is a good product.


Simple, straight forward, inexpensive.


Bo



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
APG City Tiles
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