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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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Castoffs and Crossbreeds
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2010 10:33:56

This short work is jam-packed with thought-provoking ideas for how to use different racial mixes in your game. In the Introduction, the author describes how he's always enjoyed exploring new races in his own playing, as well as reading about exotic monsters and wondering how they'd work as characters. Here, then, are some tools and ideas if you'd like to do the same.


Chapter 1: Half-Breeds in Your Game looks at the ups and downs of making much use of them, and at some of the things you need to think about when deciding what you're going to allow. The liklihood is that they will be less common than racially-pure individuals - but why should this be, and what effect will a few of them have on society? There's always good role-playing potential in being a bit different, and that to my mind is the real advantage of having half-breeds. It is not as disruptive as introducing a complete new race, and you can degree that due to social or even biological reasons they are quite rare.


The main part of the book is Chapter 2: Half-Breeds, in which no less than 12 new possibilities are presented, complete with ready-made backgrounds and all the rule mechanics needed to play or referee them. There are some fascinating concepts here, quite unlikely half-breeds but ones for whom a comprehensive rationale as to why they exist is given, one which in many cases could give rise to a whole series of adventures. I think I fancy an ophidian - result of a medusa seducing some powerful and influential human - but whatever your tastes, if you are of a mind to experiment with more than the standard fantasy races there is plenty of scope here for you and your DM to find some interesting characters and things to do with them.


Next, Chapter 3: The Demiurge presents a way in which those DMs concerned about internal consistency in their alternate reality can explain the most unlikely of half-breeds. The demiurge are mysterious beings which come from outer space and indulge in abduction of and experimentation on the sentient beings they encounter... with surprising results, at times. They could make a good antagonist, whether as a one-off or as the focus of a whole UFO-based campaign.


Finally, Chapter 4: New Monsters gives details of the giant cockroach and the gorilla, which at the time of writing have not yet made their appearance in Dungeons & Dragons 4e, but which are part of the mix that forms a couple of the half-breeds in Chapter 2.


A simple concept that goes straight to the heart of the 'what-if' mentality that drives much of fantasy, the ideas herein - and those that just thinking about them will spawn in your own mind - can empower an added dimension to a fantasy game, with as much social and personal interaction as you and your players might wish for. Many of the half-breeds are good in a brawl or other encounter as well, so however you like to play your game there may well be something of use here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castoffs and Crossbreeds
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One on One Adventures Compendium
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2010 06:41:26

This Compendium is more than just a repackaging of the first 11 One-on-One adventures (written for GM and a single player) into one convenient book, the opportunity has been taken to optimise all the adventures, originally written for Dungeons & Dragons 3e to the Pathfinder RPG.


It starts with a Foreword that explains the origins of this particular series - time spent in remote locations where you're lucky to find one other role-player, let alone enough of them to run a conventional game. Most of us have been in that situation - I recall being stuck on a cruise ship amusing the one other gamer I'd found by running AD&D adventurers based on Botaccio's Decameron which I happened to be reading at the time! But here is a collection of adventures specifically written for a solo character, and designed to be completed by a single character on his own. Each even has a pre-generated one provided, which ensures that any skills, spells or abilities the author thinks will be useful in the adventure will be available. Or of course, you can play your own character - each adventure specifies the most suitable character class and level, although most could be played by any character with a bit more effort.


Adventures range from 2nd to 11th level, and you'll find at least one suitable for virtually any class, although rogues get the lion's share - well, they ARE possibly the best class for operating solo, after all! Those who enjoy a good brawl need not worry, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in combat, while the adventures require thought as well as a strong sword-arm or ready spell book to complete.


While the plotlines of the adventures remain true to the original publications, a lot of effort has been put into the mechanics to ensure that everything works perfectly for the Pathfinder ruleset. And of course, the real treat is Adventure 6.66: The Pleasure Prison of the B'thuvian Demon Whore - the adventure that launched the series, now generally rather expensive on auction sites if you can find it at all. More prudish gamers need not fear, despite the title, while tongue-in-cheek all remains quite decent unless you really get carried away with the chocolate golem! All the adventures are fun, whichever side of the GM screen you are sitting, but this one in particular is a merry romp in an over-the-top Conan-esque style.


By their nature, most of the adventures are 'one-offs' to be run, perhaps, when you cannot get the whole group together for a regular session. If you prefer, however, each is provided with information to enable you to scale the adventure for a small party if you have more than one eager player. Also, as several adventures involve a rogue, it is possible to link them into a loose series - more 'adventures in the life of' than a genuine adventure path, but sufficient for several entertaining sessions nonetheless. Put it this way, this one is coming with me next holiday... something to keep my daughter entertained if nothing else!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One on One Adventures Compendium
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1 on 1 Adventures #13: The Pearls of Pohjola
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/03/2010 08:35:55

This adventure is inspired by the myths of Finland, in style if not in actual content, and has the appropriate epic feel about it. Designed for a single character - a sorcerer of 10-12th level is suggested, and one is provided - brief notes are provided should you prefer to use it in a regular multi-player game, when characters of about 6th-level would be appropriate.


Firstly, the GM is given the full background story upon which the myth is based. It's not very clear how to get your character or characters involved, though, as all they are recommended to be told is a rather opaque (but pleasant) song sung by a local bard, unless you go with the route of them having prior knowledge that has brought them to the area in the first place. It's all set in a snowy northern wilderness, so there does need to be some reason to be there in the first place... even if you come up with something completely irrelevant that puts the character in the right place for you to start the adventure!


However you've got the character there, the adventure proper begins with a trek through the snow (complete with a few well-constructed random encounters you can use) to reach an inn. Here they'll discover that the area is claimed by a bunch of sentient bears and travellers need to either request permission from them to proceed (or evade them in their travels). There's a local bard who can provide some useful background to the myth once the character's attention has been attracted, provided she asks!


As the adventure unfolds, there are opportunities to exercise both the sword-arm and tongue, with combat and diplomacy both required to achieve success. If the character does manage to impress those sentient bears, they'll take her where she needs to go, else the correct location will have to be discovered. Once there, of course, it's not plain sailing - indeed, actually finding what the character is after involves rather too much random chance for my taste... and as finding the item in question is the start rather than the culmination of the adventure, I'd be inclined to make it a bit easier. The rest is complex enough and requires thought, interaction and skill (combat and otherwise) to reach a successful conclusion.


While interesting and challenging, the final part of the adventure is a bit linear with a distinct possibility of the character being left floundering if they don't discern the correct actions to take. It will need careful GMing to ensure that the character has a fighting chance of success without her feeling that she is being led by the nose!


Overall, it's an unusual and intriguing adventure - born in a song, it may well lead to some more as the character's exploits will if successful, be worthy of a ballad or two.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1 on 1 Adventures #13: The Pearls of Pohjola
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One on One Adventures Compendium
by Jako W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2010 12:08:29

Great and original adventures, very useful to those that doesn't have easy access to a regular gaming group.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One on One Adventures Compendium
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One on One Adventures Compendium
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2009 10:58:50

A huge bang for the buck here; I am impressed at how much I got for the price tag. This is an excellent compilation of one-on-one modules, most useful when you have a single player and an itch to play; the rules provide plenty of helpful hints on scaling and balance and I have encountered no glitches or oddities so far, off-hand. The only real problem I have noticed is that they are designed for various separate scenarios aimed at specific character types, and so it would be hard to run this book as a series of continuous adventures in a campaign.


The book is clean and well-edited, and has plenty of great illustrations and maps. Probably my favorite PDF to date for Pathfinder!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Darkness #4: The Swamp of Timbermoor
by Jeremy G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/27/2009 14:35:13

This product gives you an entire level's worth of encounters based around a single location type - in this case swamps. There are hooks for an adventure to link the encounters but the encounters would also be easy to slot into any swamp or marshy environment.


Options are given to scale the the encounters from 9th level to 11th level. All monsters included are new so the entire stat blocks are available in the product for easy reference.


All interior artwork is b/w including the maps. In my opinion this product gives good value for money and I look forward to using it in my campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Darkness #4: The Swamp of Timbermoor
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Malevolent and Benign
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/04/2009 16:32:57

Excellent collection of monsters from Expeditious Retreat, statted for use with OSRIC (and therefore 1st edition AD&D). I am using the monsters with my C&C campaign right now, and the conversion is trivial.


PROS: the book is cleanly illustrated and the monsters all get some great write-ups. There are a lot fo interestign creatures in here, and the book is not an eyesore...even the retro cover, reminiscent of Erol Otus (by peter Mullen, whose got the Otus look down pat) is actually rather quirky and fun rather than an eyesore as in other retro games where the need to emulate the bad art of the 70's and 80's accompanied the retro-rule feel. The book is navigable as well with full bookmarks, a big plus for laptop-equipped DMs. Finally, as a resource designed fors classic style AD&D play, it both looks and feels the part, with all the appropriate bells & whistles, right on down to the layout and design. But the art in this one is much, much nicer than anything in Fiend Folio, I assure you!


CONS: I found that putting the monster description at the end of the entry rather than the beginning was a bit disconcerting....sometimes I needed to reference it first to figure out what the heck the creature's weird properties were. A few of the creatures are very...ah...complicated, which is to say, my head started throbbing thinking about managing the creature in-game, but don't take that as a con unless you are keen on simplicity of design.


Appearance: 4/5 - good cleanlayout, design, and nice art; a portion of it is definitely royalty-free and been seen elsewhere, but it's still good


Content: 5/5 if you need new monsters for OSRIC, C&C, or 1E/2E games.


VALUE: 5/5 for old school gamers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Malevolent and Benign
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Seeds Compilation: Modern I-V
by Kevin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2009 15:13:35

As with the Fantasy compilation, another great set of adventure seeds. Really fun to read and I’ve already expanded on a few to use at a future gaming session. Definitely worth the price!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Modern I-V
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Seeds Compilation: Fantasy I-V
by Kevin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2009 10:11:39

This product absolutely delivers on its promise, and contains some really useful adventures seeds to kickstart creativity, especially on those nights when it’s simply not flowing. A really nice variety and each seed contains enough info that it can be expanded upon. Great job!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Fantasy I-V
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Pozas Art Pack: Fantasy vol. 9-Cityscapes
by Julie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2009 13:08:56

OK line art. Not a lot of detail and a couple pieces look like work-in-progress.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pozas Art Pack: Fantasy vol. 9-Cityscapes
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Pozas Art Pack Fantasy vol. 3: Landscapes
by Julie D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2009 12:18:30

Decent collection of line art with generic settings. Fair enough for general filler art but nothing exceptional.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pozas Art Pack Fantasy vol. 3: Landscapes
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Malevolent and Benign
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2009 11:19:55

A fantastic 1E supplement full of monsters. It is worth the price of admission:).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Malevolent and Benign
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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe Second Edition
by Scott B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2009 14:59:39

EXCELLENT! Well done! Great job! I wet my pants I was so happy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe Second Edition
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Seeds: Military
by JD S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2009 13:00:21

Not bad. Like all EPR seeds products, its a collection of ideas presented in a couple paragraphs. Worth $1.31



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Military
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