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Templates of Terrors
by Benjamin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2014 00:04:08

Only SIX templates!

Must say I am very disappointed. I assumed that this 138 page PDF would largely be devoted to giving various templates. Unfortunately, this is not true. Only six templates are presented (Animal Companion, Familiar, Fiendish Servant, Psicrystal, Shadow Companion, and Special Mount), the rest of the product is filled with a copy/paste from the SRD of creatures you can apply the templates to (presumably to justify the outrageous price for six templates). Only the first 25 pages of this product are anything that resembles being new. I'm a sucker for monster and templates book, so when I regret a purchase of one, it's a pretty good indication of a product that should largely be avoided.

I think the publisher should edit the descriptive text of this product to more accurately reflect it's contents...this is not a comprehensive template book such as Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary or Silverthorne Games' Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition 3.5.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Templates of Terrors
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Creator Reply:
I apologize that you were disappointed in this book. I have edited the description to show there are only six templates and lowered the price so that others might not be as disappointed as you. I have to say, though, that I never stated this was a comprehensive book, just a book with templates. Hopefully you purchase Tome of Terrors and find that more to your liking. Happy Gaming!
From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar (Revision 2)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2009 14:06:53

From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar (Revision 2) is a 36-page PDF (32 after cover, OGL and ads) for D20 Fantasy written by Craig Tidwell, Daniel Deadmarsh, David Sanders, Daniel Hodge, Nitehawk Jarrett (though only Tidwell and Deadmarsh get cover credit) and published by Nitehawk Interactive Games. This is part of the Outlandia line of game accessories.

The layout is mostly in the standard clear two-column design which is easy to read (though some of the paragraphs failed to indent). Each of the items is given an illustration, several of which are in full color, the art ranges from passable to good.

The product begins with a brief introduction to where the items came from and the role they can play and well as some notes about the way the cursed items function in general before moving into the meat of the product, the nineteen items themselves: Each item has an illustration, which is good, a full description of the item and its powers and curse and one or two plot hooks. More could have been done with the plot hooks, most of which are fairly obvious and basic.

The items range drastically in power level and in the danger of their curses. The items are mostly interesting variants on standard items with a few items that have very interesting powers that are potentially off the usual curve (and thus, must be watched carefully). Two of the items (a rune sword and a razor shield) are from other Nitehawk products and their statistics are not provided which could make use of the enchanted versions thereof problematic. A few items are unclear about how, exactly, they work. The curses, in general, are less subtle and clever than I would like often of the “you cannot take this item off and must suffer” variety and one has a curse that transforms it from a helpful tool to a potent weapon (as the adventure seed makes clear).

One of the items is a spell book which also comes with six new spells. All are 4th level or higher, and all could have benefitted from longer descriptions to clarify their use.

After the items, there are various appendices including: a character writeup for Shadmar. A map of Shadmar’s tower. A discussion of Outlandia currency. And a reprinting of the section on cursed items from the SRD.

Using cursed items in a campaign is always problematic and deserved to be discussed a bit more than it is in this product. While there are good ideas here, it is likely that they will have to be adapted for an ongoing campaign. If you are looking for inspiration for cursed items in your campaign this may be a worthwhile investment.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar (Revision 2)
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From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2006 00:00:00

Shadmar was a wizard with high aspirations, and ?From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar? gives players and DMs a brief glimpse into who this character was and the mistakes he made. The mistakes are the cursed items he accidentally created, and writers Craig Tidwell and Daniel Deadmarsh have detailed eight of his cursed creations, as well as the ?amulet of creation,? the artifact that gave Shadmar the unasked-for ability to create these items.

Each of these nine items is given an illustration and a brief description, and they?re presented alphabetically. Starting the collection is the aforementioned ?amulet of creation? that, as the name implies, is the amulet Shadmar used to create the cursed items in this .pdf. There is nothing about the amulet?s appearance or even immediate use that would indicate its peculiar creation property to a player. Somewhat vague rules are given for the amulet?s actual use, however, (?It bestows to the wearer all of the metamagic Craft feats as soon as it is worn?), leaving a lot of work to the DM for incorporating this artifact into a game or campaign.

The other items in this supplement suffer the same lack of rule-focus. While most of the items? description do make clear what their particular effect is ? the ?circlet of learning? grants a +15 bonus to its wearer?s Knowledge checks, the ?ring of competence? bestows its PC a 10% experience point bonus, etc. ? exact rules and rulings are missing. ?From the Laboratory...? fails to list item costs or creation requirements. (Oddly, one specific rule regarding the ?circlet of learning? is given; this item adds 1 point to a character?s Insanity Score for every month that the item is worn. Outside of mentioning that a character?s Insanity Score acts as a negative modifier when it comes to skill Wisdom-based skill checks or saves, the Insanity Score is not further explained or mentioned again.)

Despite this lack of rules-material, there is some entertaining reading here. When Shadmar first donned the ?amulet of creation,? he became obsessed with outfitting an adventuring party with powerful magic items that could be used to forever benefit mankind. Some of the items? descriptions ? ?Eli?s shoes? and the ?flute of the farmer,? for example ? give a little backstory for Shadmar and his allies, and what happened to them once they got their hands on these cursed items.

Unfortunately, there isn?t enough rules-material here to make this an overly valuable addition to your game without a bit of work on the DM?s part.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Each item is given a strong "flavor" description, and the included art matches the test extremely well. While there are only nine items here, alphabetizing the items is appreciated. The ideas behind these items, and more importantly, the ideas they may inspire, are strong. Also, this supplement concludes with an excerpt from the SRD, placing the Dungeons & Dragons rules for Cursed Items in this supplement's hands as well.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The rules are not specific enough. While the items are well-described, the actual game rule-specific information is missing. There are no item costs or creation costs listed for any of these items, and this is extremely disappointing.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
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Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
by Paul R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2006 00:00:00

I'd like to able to fil this box in without having to put anything in this coment box, alas I cannot- I apologise but I've not got a lot of free time and yet I want to rate the products.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
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From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2006 00:00:00

From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar is a 15 page pdf in the Creatures & Chaos line from Nitehawk Interactive. This pdf product features nine new magical items created by the wizard Shadmar. The product comes complete with bookmarks and a table of contents, and contains some good art of each of the nine items presented in the pdf. Presentation-wise this pdf looks good, although one of the tables for the Potion of Mutilate Self looks a bit clumped together. Of the 15 pages of the pdf, only 6 pages are actually devoted to the descriptions of the nine items - not the best ratio of content to page count.

The wizard, Shadmar, we are told, was once a respected wizard and a powerful spellcaster. His downfall came when he found a powerful item called the Amulet of Creation that gave him the ability to create any magical object of his desires. Unknown to the wizard, though, the amulet was in fact cursed in such as way that each item created using the amulet contained a minor curse of its own. The pdf details nine such items, all cursed items, that were created using the amulet, and include the details of the amulet itself. The appendix to the pdf contains the details on cursed magical items normally found in the d20 system reference document (SRD), thereby enabling DMs to create cursed items of their own should they wish to use the amulet in their campaign world.

Each of the nine items is presented with a brief background, including details on the reason for its creation and other background elements. There are some good and interesting details here, making each of the item concepts useful to a game. Examples of the nine items include the Jumping Blade that jumps out of your hand after an attack, the Flute of the Farmer that can cause devastation to local fields, the Potion of Mutilate Self that can harm your appearance and social skills, and the Wand of Reciprocal Paralyzation, that does exactly what the name implies. Some interesting ideas for cursed items, and certainly useful in game.

The pdf, however, suffers from some rather incomplete and poor mechanics. For one, none of the items listed include crafting or creation details, such as caster level, pricing, and the like. In addition, the pdf makes references to concepts like 'metamagic Craft feats' and 'Insanity scores' that aren't explained or properly detailed in the case of the latter. While I can understand that a 'metamagic Craft feat' actually refers to a Craft feat, this isn't the only example of some poorly referenced or executed mechanic.

Lastly, the pdf contains some useful adventure ideas and plot hooks. I think the pdf has some merit in the concepts and ideas that it present, but the execution is poor and could certainly have done with complete mechanics and corrected mechanical descriptions.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Some interesting and useful ideas amongst the nine magical items. I liked the idea behind the Amulet of Creation, and it's certainly something I can see using in a campaign. Small minor curses within items can make for interesting gameplay.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The pdf contains no crafting or creation details on the various magical items, and contains undefined or ill-defined references to several mechanical terms.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
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From the laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/30/2006 00:00:00

From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar is a short book of magic items from Nitehawk Interactive. Despite the curious lack of the d20 logo on the front cover (it does appear on the back cover), this is a product meant for Fantasy d20 use. The zipped file of the product is just under 7.8 megabytes, while the PDF file it contains is just under 8.2 meg. The product has bookmarks and a table of contents.

The single file is 15 pages long, including both front and back covers, a credits page, table of contents, and a total of two pages for the OGL and some ads, leaving nine pages of the product devoted to game material. The covers are both full-color, as is almost all of the interior artwork. No printer-friendly version of the product is given.

From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar details nine magic items, all made by the wizard Shadmar. The theme here is that each item is, in fact cursed, granting a drawback that usually negates any benefit the item may bestow (in fact, the first item is a cursed artifact, in that spellcasters who wear it are suddenly adept at making magic items?which are also cursed). While this sounds like a good idea for a book, this particular work suffers quite a bit in execution.

For one thing, none of the items are given the usual magic item statistics. None have listings for their aura, caster level, market price, or feats and spells needed to create. What?s more, several odd errors creep into products, such as the Amulet of Creation (the aforementioned cursed artifact) saying it grants ?all of the metamagic Craft feats? to the wearer. Likewise, the Circlet of the Learned says that the victim who wears it ?gains one point to his Insanity score.? While the remainder of the text makes it possible to infer what this does, it?s still something tossed out there with no prior explanation.

After the magic items are given, four brief adventure hooks using various cursed items are given. Following that are three pages on ?generic? cursed items, reprinted here from the SRD.

Altogether, From the Laboratory of the Mad Wizard Shadmar is a product with a good idea, but which didn?t expound on that idea well. Several basic aspects of Fantasy d20 magic items were ignored, and it hurts the product as a result. This is a shame, since clever GMs will see the beauty of how this book could have been so much more. Altogether, this book seems to be something of a cursed object in and of itself. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The idea behind this book, that of a cursed artifact that got the wearer to craft items that (unknowingly) are cursed themselves, was innovative and amusing.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: None of the items had the requisite d20 magic item information given, largely undercutting using this as further inspiration for related cursed items. It would also have been nice to have a printer-friendly version of the book available.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
by Eric H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/04/2005 00:00:00

Layout/Organization: None. The text appears to be in first draft state and no attempts have been made to lay it out for easier reading. Statistic blocks are thrown down on the page without any logic as to why they are there. Key information is missing from some areas like the spell book listed in the treasure section.

Crunchy: Some stats, but they are laid out in a manner that makes them very difficult to read.

Chewy: Basically, the adventure is in two parts. In one the party gets tricked into helping a little boy who leads them to a fight to their death no matter what they do. This would be okay, but it's followed up by another trick to free prisoners who then attack the PCs. If a GM intends to really make his players paranoid he should really pick this adventure up. Otherwise, there's gotta be something else out there. Keep looking.

Lasting Use in a Campaign: None, if your players still trust you to be their DM after you play it.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: It can make for a small sidetrek adventure to build up a party's XP, but that's about it.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Aside from the poor presentation, the encounters carry an air of being forced and will most likely kill your player's trust in you to shoot straight as a DM. What's the adage, fool me once...?<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Ripped Off<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
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Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
by James H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/28/2005 00:00:00

My initial impressions of Astray in the Woodlands were that it would have benefitted from better editing and layout, which probably aren?t the first impressions that a publisher wants their products to make.

The actual adventure summary consists of four whole sentences. The second two sentences state that the adventure is 'meant for a band of four adventurers of 7th Level' and that it is intended to be run between campaigns, or inserted into an ongoing campaign. The first two sentences deliver the following plot hook:

"While traveling along a forested road between towns the party is expected to return a lost child to his traveling merchant father's caravan. Once there, the adventurers are forced to battle werewolves and supposedly would-be allies."

Setting up the adventure consists of telling the players to make listen and spot checks, respectively, which will allow their characters to find a young boy named Davus alone and crying in the woods. If the players fail to successfully make these checks, the GM will have to cook up some other way to get the PCs into the adventure.

Now, provided that the players stumble across Davus (i.e., they make their checks), or the GM initiates the encounter in some other manner - the author automatically assumes that the players will not only suffer the persistent crying of Davus and allow him to travel with them, but also agree to return him to his father's caravan which he claims to have become separated from.

Once the players take Davus back to his father's caravan, which is conveniently parked about an hour away from the spot that they encounter Davus, they meet Davus's father, Lupandor, and the other caravan members; all of whom who invite them to sup at their campfire (characters can make a Sense Motive check here to determine that something is not quite right).

If the PCs decline the meal invitation or attempt to leave the area, they are attacked by a large white wolf, Davus who instantly changes into a wolf, and the other caravan members who change into 'wolf hybrids' and attack the party. If they accept the invitation to sup with the caravan members, the party will be allowed to eat a meal before the caravan members turn into wolves and wolf hybrids to attack them.

If the PCs are defeated, they will be captured if they?re not killed outright in the combat. If they succeed in defeating the werewolves, however, they will discover four prisoners in one of the caravan wagons who were captured by the werewolves two days earlier. They are wererats (a fact that they don't divulge) and will attack the party at the soonest opportunity after they are released from their cage.

If the PCs survive this secondary encounter, they get some roughly 90 gold coins, 36 semiprecious gemstones, and a spell book (which is probably supposed to have spells in it, but for some reason these seem to have been omitted from the review copy of the adventure I received).

And that wraps up the adventure. The word ?forced? in the adventure summary is very telling and nicely sums up the adventure itself.

As it stands, Astray in Woodlands would be good for the GM with absolutely no time to do a Google search - but if they have that time, they can find dozens of free adventures that cover much the same ground as Astray in the Woodlands with far more flair and less heavy-handed plot. <br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The basic idea of the werewolf ambush - it's a tried and true ambush scenario that can always be culled for a quick bit of fun in a pinch. There is potential here, it just seems to have been rundown in a hurried attempt to get Astray in the Woodlands into circulation. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The extremely rigid structure of the encounter that serves to lock PCs into a certain course of prescripted action. Minor, though numerous, spelling and grammar errors. The excessive amount of unused white space in the document. Lack of suggestions for incorporating the encounter into an existing campaign. Rewarding the players with a pack of wererats for defeating the werewolves. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer's Handbook
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2005 00:00:00

I am always excited to get into supplemental crunch material. Nitehawk Interactive?s Adventurer?s Handbook is all about crunch meant to provide dungeon masters? with more material from which to draw from and provide a wider variety of options to their players. Unfortunately, this Nitehawk Interactive product falls short.

My review is based on the PDF version of the Adventurer?s Handbook. The Handbook contains an introduction, seven chapters, an appendix, and an index. I will discuss the chapters in turn. The PDF contains 148 pages, including the front and back covers. Given the length of this product, this review will be fairly lengthy.

Chapter 1- Races: This chapter contains nine races, five of which are actually half breeds. If you?ve been contemplating a mixture of dwarves and gnomes, gnomes and halflings, or dwarves and orcs; this chapter is your heaven. Combinations of common player character races have clearly weighed heavily on the author?s mind. The non half breed races include versions of some standard concepts, such as a winged ?feline? race and a lizard race; as well as some attempts at some novel types.

I found the fluff (descriptive text that provides the ?flavor?) a little too simple despite some of the solid ideas presented. Things like the slang terms for the various half breeds could have been left out. In addition, many of the descriptive entries for half breeds simply split the difference. (Members of race X worship the dwarven or gnomish gods, or treats dwarven waraxes and urgroshes or gnomish hooked hammers as martial weapons, depending on upbringing.) At the same time, the novel races are more interesting. (If you have been hunkering for these half breeds, I already said this is your cup of tea.)

They did attempt to include information on ?campaign lore? and ?adventure hooks? into the racial description. I hope that in future products Nitehawk Interactive considers keeping these concepts and expanding them. By expanding the effort put into the adventure hooks I think it is likely that the fluff would see a nice improvement in complexity and depth. This would especially play into the more interesting content of the novel races. These races could easily be taken by an enterprising dungeon master and placed within any home brewed setting and given?all new? campaign specific fluff.

Chapter 2- Classes: This chapter contains six classes, four of which are new. The chapter also contains alternate versions of the shaman and psionist. It should be noted that in addition to the alternate psionist class, the Adventurer?s Handbook contains a second psionic class, the mentalist. Also contained in this chapter are rules for the use of a talisman by shamans and an alternate psionic system. The talisman system is very basic and concerns itself nearly exclusively with the penalty for its loss and how to replace it. The alternate psionic system (where there appears to have been some editing oversights) is a point system using ?schools? of the psionic powers.

As with the races, I find the fluff somewhat lacking. Statements like, ?A bounty hunter thinks mostly of money.? are so cliche, and limiting. Seems like they should be able to range from the greedy street fighter to the more refined and less physical investigatory type. However, as with the races, if the dungeon master electing to use these classes prepares their own fluff for the players, these classes provide workable supplements to the core classes. If you aren?t interested in rethinking some fluff, you may not end up liking what you find here.

In addition, if I can return to speaking about the bounty hunter class, the class progression is unnecessarily ?clumpy?. Rather than gaining two special abilities between levels 12 and 17, both arrive at 15. This format leaves large gaps of time during which the power of the character will increase without any change to the character?s options. This is a flaw in the class design of a non spellcaster. Even with a spellcaster, gaining two new abilities and having one old ability ?improve? at the same level are overkill when there are eleven levels at which their abilities do not change, as is the case with the alternate version of the shaman. By the same token, the outcast class gains a special ability at every level except 18th and gains the ability to cast spells at 5th level. Something does not seem quite right.

Chapter 3- Skills: This chapter contains six new skills ranging from seduction to tactics. (Oh, those two might just be the same thing for some folks!) The new skills are interesting, but the author does not address the issue that adding to the skill list effectively reduces the ?power? of player characters. By making them divide their skill points over a broader range of skills, the character will, of necessity have less ranks in skills that will (eventually) be required.

In addition to new skills, ?core? skills are given a close look for the purpose of adding additional ways in which the skills should interact with other proposed game elements. For example, skills that a new race has a bonus to will include the statement that ?Race X gets a +2 bonus on...? This is an excellent idea and, with proper planning, this could?ve been an unquestionable jewel. However, you should note that while it appears that some attempt was made to include the core information for each skill, they appear to have left out some material. For example, the information on both the appraise and balance skills do not include a statement on synergies. Both appraise and balance have core synergies listed in core materials. So, don?t use this reference in lieu of your core references, use it for the content specific information.

Chapter 4- Feats: This first portion of this chapter contains 36 new feats, of which 3 are metamagic, 3 are item creation, and the remaining 30 are general. The authors imagination seems to have been best captured in this chapter. They provide a number of interesting feats, and ensure that some of them create new ?progressions?; such as the craftsman feats, or the kicking feats. If you are constantly trying to creatively come up with new feats, this chapter may be worth your while regardless of whether you are looking for feats concerning nature, combat, crafting, magic, and even one concerning your ?sea legs?! The second section details the ?Background Feats? being offered. These are feats that can only be taken at first level and are based on the prior experiences that your character background is liekly to deal with. There are 10 background feats. The prerequisites for these background feats ensure that the player has followed through with the background story when assigning skill points. It does seem like they should have provided a wider array of options for background feats. Finally, there are five epic level feats that build upon the new feats contained earlier in the chapter.

Chapter 5- Magic: The Adventurer?s Handbook presents 39 spells in the core schools of magic (anywhere between levels 0 and 9), a new school of magic based on a fantasy view of subatomic particles (17 spells), and a new divine domain concerning the power of animal spirits (9 spells). I will not say much more on this chapter because the usefulness of this chapter will depend greatly on the campaign that you run or are playing in. Some of these spells would not fit within the thematic elements of certain campaigns, some of them may seem perfect. If you have considered how magic might allow one to control things on a microscopic level, or if you have toyed with the idea of the relationship between magic and animal spirits, this chapter has your name on it...somewhere among all those spells.

Chapter 6- Equipment: This chapter contains new exotic weapons, goods, and containers for your characters to use and for you to sprinkle around your campaign setting. Its always nice to be able to ?pimp out? an NPC or a PC with something new...until the next new ?must have? item comes along! Here you can find the patar, catstink, and the yo-yo! If you are into ?bling?, this is a contribution of a mere five pages. If you are expecting a substantial library of equipment, then this will disappoint you.

Chapter 7- Campaign Master Tools: This chapter contains two sections, one for Prestige Classes (3 ten level PrCs and 1 five level PrC) and one for NPC Classes (3 twenty level NPC Classes). Mostly, my criticism from the earlier classes applies here. The fluff is weak and, sometimes, even confusing. For example, one of the PrCs is the Ghost Hunter, but the text is not clear in establishing why they sometimes destroy the ghosts they find and why they sometimes ask them to leave? Why would the ghost hunter sometimes live among ghosts? How do they reconcile the belief that ghosts do not belong on the prime plane and, yet, they understand that some ghosts must remain until they find peace? In addition, the ?slave? class, while an interesting concept to ponder, does not warrant NPC class status as written. Any dungeon master can purposefully create subpar characters at any point in time. Simply don?t pick up that extra feat, or assign lower ability scores. What dungeon masters need are classes that are balanced and provide an interesting way of filling a need within the campaign setting.

Artwork: Overall the artwork is adequate. Some of the individual works are better than others, though there is nothing to go crazy over.

Unfortunately, I noted some errors. For example, the ?bookmarks? window in Adobe Reader lists both Chapter?s 1 and 2 as ?Races?. However, Chapter 2 should be listed as ?Classes?. It is correctly contained in the Table of Contents, so it should be correct in the print version.

Overall, I found this product disappointing considering the options that should have become obvious during development.

To rousing gaming and ample rewards, I. Perez<br><br><b>LIKED</b>:

  1. Interesting attempt at some novel race concepts, which if placed into a homebrewed world will not suffer for inadequate fluff.
  2. Inclusion of commonly discussed half-breeds and the inclusion of campaign lore and adventure hooks in racial descriptions.
  3. Interesting new feats and creation of two additional schools of magic and interesting spell concepts.
  4. Some interesting, if limited, equipment.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
  5. A variety of the tables are not formatted perfectly for ease of use. It can be hard to see some entries.
  6. Minor errors.
  7. Inconsistent quality of writing.
  8. At times, the effort appears inconsistent. (Such as with listing skill synergies, addressing impact of increasing the number of skills, and developing even class progressions.)
  9. Leaves too much work to the reader to make this product truly useful.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer's Handbook
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Adventurer's Handbook
by Anthony R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2005 00:00:00

I tried hard to find something I liked about the Adventurer's Handbook. With 148 pages of new fantasy d20 races, classes, skills, feats, spells and equipment there had to be something to like, right? Unfortunately, if there are some gems there, I couldn't find them beneath the ugly exterior. Most of the interior art is what I would generously call amateurish. There are a few decent pieces, but they are far overshadowed by the bad ones. The layout is also primitive. It almost looks like someone just pasted a few tables and pieces of art into a Word document. Some of the tables are so squashed, at least in my version of Acrobat, that I could hardly read them. At least there is an index.

The writing is quite unpolished. Draw your own conclusions, however, from this example from the Alignment section of the Kiriton race. "Kiritons are a goodly race that remains within their own communities. They tend to be Neutral Good; however Lawful Good is also a prominent alignment among them. Paladins to their goddess are not uncommon." The d20 content is a hodgepodge of material, without any unifying theme that I could find. There are nine new races, six new base classes, new skills, new feats, new magic, new equipment, four new prestige classes and two new NPC classes. There is also a section on expanding current skills. Whether or not you will actually like any of the book's d20 content is certainly subjective, but as a D&D player that has enjoyed the new edition since it was first released in 2000, I didn't find anything that really stood out to me. Your mileage of course may vary.

I don't want to be completely negative, however. My opinion is just that and there are probably at least some useful ideas and nuggets that a clever purchaser can dig out and use. I hope Nighthawk Interactive learned a lot from putting the Adventurer's Handbook together and hopefully they will go on to put out more polished and professional products in the future.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: There probably some nuggets buried here somewhere for someone willing to dig.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The art and layout are very poor. The writing is unpolished and the content unremarkable.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2005 00:00:00

This is a clever, but small/short encounter. The encounter can basically be divided into the introductory encounter (which establishes a motive to search for a group) and a secondary ?group? meeting. After that the actions of the player characters will begin to greatly determine the course of action leading up to the end of the encounter.

The author does a good job in attempting to assist the dungeon master in identifying when a variety of skill checks need to be made. (Sense motive, bluff, spot, etc.) This is especially true for the noncombat encounters that the begin the adventure. Experienced dungeon masters likely can ignore those hints. The plan of action for the each non player characters (NPCs) is clearly laid out in the text of the adventure at each step. The author does a fairly good job of anticipating the possible reactions of a party of adventurers.

The adventure contains seven stat blocks for ten NPCs. Assuming the dungeon master is inclined to use them, there is one text block to be read aloud to the party.

To my critical eye, ?Astray in the Woodlands? should include suggestions for dungeon masters to incorporate this encounter into their campaigns. Experienced dungeon masters simply looking for a short encounter to expand the possibilities of options when the party goes in an unplanned direction will be happy with this. However, the novice dungeon master, that would most benefit from running short encounters, will have a tougher time because of that missing element.

To rousing gaming and ample rewards, I. Perez<br><br><b>LIKED</b>:

  1. Clever plot device for small encounter.
  2. Little chance that the actions of the party can ruin the preparation of the encounter. They can merely change the timing of when the climax is reached and the encounter ends.
  3. Clear guidance on the strategy to be used by all of the NPCs.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
  4. Minor typographical errors.
  5. For some reason the layout of the adventure creates a lot of wasted space.
  6. There is no map at all.
  7. For such a short encounter, it lacks even a bare bones list of suggestions for incorporation into a running campaign. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Astray in the Woodlands (Deadly Encounters)
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In a Manor of Speaking (Deadly Encounters)
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2005 00:00:00

?In a Manor of Speaking? is a solid adventure. It provides four hooks for the dungeon master to use to entangle the player characters into the adventure. There are many text blocks for the dungeon master, if so inclined, to read aloud to the player characters. There are over 30 labeled areas relevant to this adventures each containing the required information on any traps or non player characters that may be found inside that area. There is a brief description of the town that is central to the adventure that can serve as a foundation upon which a ?complete? town may be built. Truthfully, if I had my way the town would have been further developed, if for no other reason than to establish the relative locations of the important locations within the town to the player characters. Many dungeon masters enjoy providing an array of options to the players and allowing the players to select from among them. This adventure is a perfect option for a recurring option until the players decide to pursue it.

In addition, the adventure comes with a wandering monster table and three different stat blocks for specific creatures in the appendix. Finally, appendix B contains a template for creating poltergeist from any humanoid creature.

Three maps required for this adventure appear on two pages. The maps are pleasantly done, however, they do not provide a version of the maps to display to the players.

Overall, ?In a Manor of Speaking? will result in an interesting adventure long enough to last more than one average length game session. In addition, an enterprising dungeon master should be able to spend some more time in the area utilizing the contacts developed during this adventure.

To rousing gaming and ample reward, I. Perez<br><br><b>LIKED</b>:

  1. Well prepared.
  2. Contains interesting ?puzzle? style obstacles.
  3. At the conclusion of the adventure, if the dungeon master is hoping to establish a base of operations for the player characters, a contact can be created for future adventure hooks.
  4. Contains interesting sidebars concerning things such as a trap effect and unique magical items.
  5. Contains some suggestions for running the adventure for higher level parties. (Though they would likely need to be further supplemented.)<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
  6. Occasional formatting errors.
  7. No player map.
  8. Setting could have used further development to help the dungeon master with the introduction of the adventure.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In a Manor of Speaking (Deadly Encounters)
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Adventure Pack #1 (Deadly Encounters)
by I. P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2005 00:00:00

Adventure Pack #1 (Deadly Encounters) is a combination of two other products. The first is a small encounter scenario, ?Astray in the Woodlands?. The second is a fuller adventure, ?In a Manor of Speaking?. I?ve written reviews for both those products so see their products pages for particular information about each product.

Purchasing them both together provides the buyer with a small discount.

To rousing gaming and ample rewards, I. Perez<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: See component products.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: See component products.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Pack #1 (Deadly Encounters)
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Adventurer's Handbook
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2005 00:00:00

I hate leaving negative reviews but this product left me largely wishing that I hadn't spent my money on it.

It isn't that its contents are all that particularly horrible - its just htat they aren't all that special either. Trust me, the prestige classes did NOT amaze me. If you are like me and have purchased some 200+ products on here in the last couple of years, then you can probably stand to pass this one up - but if you are a once in a great while purchaser - then you will probably get more use out of this than I did.

Again, I hate leaving negative reviews - but this product left me with a bit of yearning for more and a good deal of regret. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventurer's Handbook
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Adventurer's Handbook
by Pedro C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2005 00:00:00

At the current price, the book seems like a waste. There are much better options out there, for a much more reasonable price. I'm still going through it, but so far haven't found anything that really makes me satisfied with my purchase.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Some of the half races were interesting.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The tables were hard to read, and the classes didn't really have much point to them. The slave NPC class really stuck out as representitive of this. It's a class hat's actually worse than commoner.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Ripped Off<br>



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
It's nice of you to leave a review, but to do so without going through the whole publication first seems a little rude. Some things aren't for everyone and I'm sorry you feel ripped off. We spent a long time creating this pub and are happy with the outcome. We are sorry you are not, but hope that our future products may live up to your expectations as it is not our goal to make anyone feel this way.
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