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Internet Arcana
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2011 15:04:30

You can never have too many spells. Internet Arcana culled the best of the of OGC spells and put them one easy to use book. The format is for 3.0, but it would not take much at all to convert these to 3.5 or Pathfinder or even "downgrade" them to your favorite retro-clone. Not a "must have" but certainly a worthwhile purchase.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Internet Arcana
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Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2011 19:10:18

The first of the Advanced Adventures line, from Expeditious Retreat Press, RPGNOW tells me that The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom was first made available on their site in 2006. So, it's been around for quite some time and if you're into OSR stuff, you probably already have a copy. But, new people are finding our corner of the gaming universe, everyday and even if you've been around for the past several years, maybe you've neglected to check this out.


If so, Fie! Fie I say! You've been depriving yourself of quite a treat.


Pod-Caverns is a dungeon adventure, three-levels large. To give you an idea of the size, there are 52 keyed areas. The main monster in the dungeon is the Sinister Shroom, of course, and if you're not familiar with these fellows, you can download a free copy of the excellent Monsters of Myth and get the skinny on Shrooms and their freaky Pod-men servants. They're evil, genius, magic-using mushroom-men. Mwa-ha-ha!


Mr. Finch has designed the dungeon to easily facilitate either a surface, or underground approach to the area. The module can be introduced in a more typical fashion, with the adventurers heading underground to check out the nefarious goings on, or the site can easily be placed as an expansion to an already existing dungeon, serving as an alternate route to, and obstacle in the way of, the surface-world. An underground river runs through the levels and will readily serve as transportation to the area, or as a means of travelling deeper underground, if the party entered the area from above.


There's some awesome adventure to be had in these three levels, with plenty of interesting places to explore, a nice mix of cool monsters, nasty traps and well-placed terrain hazards. There're also incidents of wonderful high weirdness, secrets to be discovered, odd things to play with, opportunities to make some friends and a well placed mix of level appropriate magic-items. The Shroom makes for a very cool opponent and if he manages to escape the adventurers, he has all the makings of the kind of recurring villain a DM dreams of.


The design of the various challenges delighted my DM sensibilities and I think that the module would prove fun as all hell to run or play. Adept players will find the module challenging and have ample opportunity to display their skills. Neophytes might find themselves in a little over their heads, but still, I wouldn't hesitate to throw babes into these particular woods. They'll learn a few tricks and this is the kind of adventure that is just too good for the gamer soul to miss.


The maps are nicely done, in old school standard black & white and so detailed as to help in explicating the descriptive text for some of the more involved terrain features. There is no scale given, but I'm assuming the standard 1 square = 10', though I suspect the author left this a little nebulous on purpose.


The overall atmosphere of the dungeon is pleasantly eerie, with some welcome touches of horror and that aforementioned weirdness, which Mr. Finch does so well! It evoked the kind of mood that I associate with the creepier sort of fairy-tale.


The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom hits all the right notes and plays them sweetly, indeed. Buy it! Buy it Now! Then Run It and let us know how it went!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom
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World of Nevermore (True20)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/24/2011 21:18:10

Ever wonder what the lands of dream are like? Wonder no more with this world guide book, World of Nevermore. Filled cover to cover with a fantastic world where dreams live. A perfect world for someone with True20 and desire to do something very different. Take your characters (and players) out of their reality and into this one. The book reads like one part Lovecraft's dreamlands, one part Shakespeare's land of the fae and one part Ravenloft.
Plenty of new rules for characters including roles, feats and powers. Plenty of new monsters and 200 pages worth of world to play with them. Really fun stuff here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Nevermore (True20)
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World Building Library:The Life of Charlemagne
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2010 23:42:08

Contents seem reasonably well known. Multiple typos are a bit of a let-down.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library:The Life of Charlemagne
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Advanced Player's Guide
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2010 23:02:42

Some very deft alternatives, even now, to races, classes and options not covered in the first releases for 4th Edition.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Player's Guide
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Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/01/2010 13:27:14

Advanced Adventures 15 - Stonesky Delve is an OSRIC adventure of exploration, deep cave delving and unlocking ancient dwarven secrets. The adventure was run as a tournament adventure at GenCon Indy 2010, as presented in this format, although it can easily be run as a standard adventure without the need for tournament time-keeping or scoring. In this adventure the PCs are asked to explore a recently opened and uncovered region of the dwarven lands on the slopes of Stonesky Mountain, where they will need to spelunk down into dark, watery and dangerous caves to explore, navigate and map these parts of the dwarven religious lands. In the process, they naturally stumble on things not bargained for, as dwarven history comes to life in the deepest caverns. Stonesky Delve is suitable for 4th to 7th level characters.


The one thing that immediately impressed me with in this adventure was the level of detail and realism. The cavern exploration is done wonderfully well, with full three-dimensional details and realism in the sense that there are critters and monsters where they should be. The exploration is very detailed, and characters will get a real sense of wonder as they pass through the caves. The adventure structure and layout is very logical, with a lot of thought going into design and placement of each encounter area or cavern room. As the exploration continues, they characters uncover ancient and sacred locations within their exploration, and here I felt the exposition was a little weak despite the creative design and verisimilitude of the exploration remaining top notch throughout. While I can expect that an exploration of some caverns is just that, if some additional story elements are added, it would've been nice to seem them become tantamount to the exploration itself rather than just another part of it. In the same vein, while the exploration is required to take place over a few days, why not add a sense of haste to the overall adventure rather than the somewhat artificial adventure background requirement? Perhaps this is all an artifact of the tournament nature of the adventure - who can explore the furthest in the least amount of time. Nevertheless, this is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure that can be real fun, with good and exciting combat encounters, lots of atmosphere, and an adventure that can have equal amount of terror and excitement for the players and characters passing through it. Good product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #15: Stonesky Delve
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Sorcery & Super Science!
by Timothy K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2010 15:37:04

I haven't read all of it, but I downloaded blue men and shortly thereafter purchased this. I like the dice mechanic, and it seems to be an exciting take on the genre. Good job ERP!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcery & Super Science!
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A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide
by William G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2010 06:57:20

As with all of the Magical Society series, a little old in style and layout, but without peer in content and value.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide
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A Magical Society: Silk Road
by William G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2010 06:56:28

As with all of the Magical Society series, a little old in style and layout, but without peer in content and value. Highly recommended if you want to create your own trading tables with realistic/sensible reasoning behind it...and have a good idea of how and why...this is YOUR resource.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Silk Road
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Jeff X. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2010 08:00:58

As a DM I found this book to be incredibly useful. The book's goal is to provide you with all the tools needed to not just build your own monsters but to build them well. It succeeds in this goal marvelously. If you want to build monsters for 3.5 that work well in the system you couldn't ask for a better resource. However, one of the great things about the book is that while there is a lot of math and statistics it doesn't ignore idea, inspiration or flavor. It has a great chapter devoted to monster ecology and discussion on how to elevate monster building to be part of world building.


Another great aspect of the book is all that math and statistics. Reading this book won't just help you make good monsters it will also give you a great understanding of the monsters you already have access to. After reading A Magical Society: Beast Builder, I feel confident that combats I run in future game sessions are going to be better for it; whether I use my own creation or something right out of the the SRD.


Finally, an important thing to note about the book: except for the Open Game License, the logos, the art, the book's name, the company's name and the name of the contributors' who made it the whole thing is open game content.


A great product that I'm very happy to own.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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Monster Geographica: Forest
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2010 12:42:54

A collection of OGC monsters from various products. Great if you are looking something very specific (in this case Forest) monsters, bad if you are looking for something bad new. The nicest feature of this book is that some older 3.0 monsters have been updated to 3.5. In some cases that is worth the cover price alone. I liked this one better than some of the others in this series, mostly due to the monsters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Geographica: Forest
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Monster Geographica: Underground
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2010 12:42:01

A collection of OGC monsters from various products. Great if you are looking something very specific (in this case Underground) monsters, bad if you are looking for something bad new. The nicest feature of this book is that some older 3.0 monsters have been updated to 3.5. In some cases that is worth the cover price alone.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Geographica: Underground
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Advanced Adventures #13: White Dragon Run
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2010 11:14:11

I had been intending to pick up some of the Expeditious Retreat Press Advanced Adventures modules, for quite some time. While I had my eye on Mr. Finch’s The Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom, when White Dragon Run appeared on RPGNOW, the preview sold me! I bought the PDF and printed it out.


White Dragon Run is exactly the kind of module I prefer. It details a village on the edge of civilization, with its surrounding area, then provides a couple of small adventure sites, with more ideas for further expansion by the DM.


First, an overview of the area is given, along with a hexmap and several encounter tables. The hexmap takes up about half a page, with the map scale being 1 hex = 1 League. There’s also a table given, for generating the content of “empty” hexes.


The Village itself is then presented, with a keyed map, a description of the major NPC’s, location details and information on the rest of the population. A map and description of the local Inn/Tavern is part of this section. Some history, rumors, flavor and whatnot are given for the area and village, providing the DM with plenty of entertaining material to riff off of.


After the setting information, two small dungeons are provided. Both of these tie into the background of the area. The dungeons and their denizens are basic stuff, but well done. They’re solid low-level adventure sites and serve their purpose of helping the DM get things started. An appendix, being excerpts from a local book of lore, provides some more adventuring ideas and history for the region.


As always, Peter Mullen’s cover art is a welcome addition and looks quite nice printed out from the PDF. There are nine interior illustrations. The various maps are well done and serviceable, though the grid on the Village Map printed out too light on my laser printer.


My only real complaint, is that the Publisher formatted the front and back color covers as one page. I have plenty of printing resources at the moment, which has led me to purchase several PDF’s, when shopping for OSR items. I would much prefer to receive my PDF’s with separate pages for the front and back covers. Especially when we’re talking about covers with Peter Mullen art, which I’m certainly going to look forward to printing out! :) It’s kind of a hassle, to separate the cover pages for a traditional printout.


Mr. Boney has done a damn fine job, with his 14 pages. Today’s time-harried, Old School DM will find White Dragon Run to be a solid basis for a new campaign. The whole design comes together very well and I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the location. With, for example, the addition of a self-designed mega-dungeon, or one of the commercial or freely available ones, you’ll find yourself all set to go!


New DM’s will find White Dragon Run to be quite accessible as well. In providing the bottom part, for a bottom-to-top designed milieu, the modules contents will serve as a firm support for the neophyte DM, as he goes about the business of building upon the setting and learning his chosen craft.


If you enjoy modules that are non-linear, mini-settings, then you’ll probably find White Dragon Run to be quite appealing. If the idea of taking this type of set-up and Running With It, strikes your fancy, then White Dragon Run is exactly what you’re looking for.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #13: White Dragon Run
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Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum
by David M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2010 17:04:48

This is not a review of the module's content, but its "physical" aspects. Most XRP modules have had a page count of 16, there have been a couple at 12 pages and a few with 20 or more, with the latter priced at $7 rather than the usual $6. This latest module, #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum, is typically priced at $6, but only has 8 pages! I didn't notice this in the product description and if I had, I would not have purchased it. That's getting close to a dollar per page. I have so far purchased every module in the Advanced Adventures line, but #14 may just be my last purchase from XRP, because I tell you, 8 pages isn't a module, it's an appendix. XRP, rethink your pricing policy or at least limit accepted submissions to a decent page count.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Adventures #14: The Verdant Vault of Malakum
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Lands of Darkness #5.5: The Home for Wayward Minions
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2010 11:36:25

Despite being billed as an 'April Fool' offering, this is not a ridiculously funny adventure. You may feel that the concept of a training camp for minions is a bit silly, but given that you can study just about anything (and even get degrees it it!) in the real world, why shouldn't the lowly minion go and learn his craft?


A few reasons are given to encourage characters to visit this swamp-based training camp. If they do so, they will find a series of huts on raised walkways - deceptively simple but naturally all is not quite what it seems! Everything is laid out clearly, with diagrams showing how the monsters are positioned at the start of each encounter, and notes on setting the correct number depending on the level of your party. The whole thing should prove straightforward to run, if a little basic.


And that's the rub: it is very basic. A linear walk-through with monsters that want to fight, only the 'boss' at the end might prefer to talk rather than brawl. It's a nice concept, but much more could be made of it as either a serious setting or, if preferred, a joke one. It doesn't really manage to be either, but could probably serve as something to do with a low-level party if you didn't have time to prepare anything. A minor quibble, one trap is supposedly based on the Fibonacci series... but it's incorrect! (So I can mention it without spoiling anything, as you'll still have to deduce the sequence used!).


This could have been much more fun... but there are a couple of undeveloped areas on the map, see what you can come up with for them. The good layout and clear instructions that should make it easy for a novice DM are the best points. Perhaps it's really a training camp for DMs rather than minions?



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Darkness #5.5: The Home for Wayward Minions
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