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Seeds Compilation: Supers I-V
by Richard F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2006 00:00:00

This is nice set of ideas for any superhero style game. I found that the first few ideas spurred my imagination into gear and come up a few different directions for them. I would recommend this to anyone that need a bit of inspiration for your adventures.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Would have liked a portrait version for the print out, not a landscape version with no borders.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds Compilation: Supers I-V
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Robert M. J. Date Added: 06/28/2006 13:24:29

Going into this book I was wondering if it had what I, as a 30 vet of D&D, would want in a monster creation type tome.


Well, I was happliy suprised by how indepth it really goes. Mind you if your not into learning game mechanics your going to find it a very long and pretty dull read but they also warn you as the reader of this fact and they are right.


The mechanics discused in this book are very indepth and comprehensive. It deals with ground up creation of monsters in all settings and lists LOTS of verried options for any level of diffeculty and experience.


They also put a random monster generator appendix in the back of the book consisting of many charts.


I think the only thing I may say is a draw back of this system is the math you have to do to calculate DC for the creatures you create. It's something Enistine might enjoy looking at.


Over all a great book and one of the most worthwhile RPG suppliments I have bought in a long time!


Great work Expeditious Retreat Press!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2006 00:00:00

A Magical Society: Beast Builder is one of my favorite d20 books. It?s easily one of the three or so best PDF products that I own. While it might not be for everyone, it does what it sets out to do with absolutely flying colors.


Never in the history of gaming has it been so easy to self-publish an RPG supplement. The portability of the PDF format combined with the openness of the d20 license allows designers of expand on a lot of niche products. The end result is some great products that boldly go in directions that Wizards of the Coast doesn?t have the interest or the pagecount to explore. Things that were once esoteric in D&D are now open to the masses.


MS: Beast Builder is a book devoted to one thing: d20 monster design. The authors have done a great job reverse-engineering the how and why of d20 monsters and compiling everything into one easy to use resource. Monster design can often involve flipping through multiple books, cross-referencing creature special abilities, and comparing and contrasting stats. With all the nuance and detail in third edition, its easy to make mistakes when making new monsters, a truism that even Wizards of the Coast have trouble escaping.


Expeditious Retreat Press has taken all of the guesswork out of monster design. MS: Beast Builder compiles all the rules relevant to creature creation into one source. Need to rate a new animal?s natural AC? Simply find its hide (or scales, or whatever) on the Estimating Natural Armor chart. Need the list of skill synergy bonuses? It?s right here on page 76.


In addition to the raw data, MS: Beast Builder gives plenty of advice. Each statistic (base attack bonus, types of attacks, saves) is explained with game mechanics, advice on how the stat might affect Challenge Rating, and examples from the core rules. Rules that I often need to look up during monster design are explained here as well. For example, what happens when a creature with natural weapons also wields a sword? MS: Beast Builder gives you a clear, easy to find explanation of the rules. Even ?non-crunchy? bits like name and concept get some attention. There is advice on making your creatures unique, various roles that monsters fill in the context of the game, and plenty of examples from the core rules.


The book also contains a number of appendices with useful charts, checklists, and a random monster generation system. Its pretty good stuff. I find the monster creation checklist is particularly useful for helping me avoid common mistakes in my work.


While the brunt of this book is concerned with the nuts and bolts of monster design, the first 50 odd pages are devoted to the ecology and environment of animals in the real world and how these things translate into the reality of the d20 system. The book contains a fairly in-depth primer on how ecosystems work and why animals evolve the way they do.


This section is full of examples of real world creatures whose strange abilities and characteristics would fit right in with the monsters in a typical fantasy campaign. Anyone looking to develop somewhat more realistic creatures, or at least design monsters that give a nod to a realistic ecology will find this section useful. It?s well-written, informative, and a pretty entertaining read.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: This book has saved me a great deal of time and helped me eliminate a lot of small errors when designing monsters. The stats are spot on, the organization is good, and the advice is very useful.


If you?re designing a lot of monsters, and you want to do things right, I can?t recommend this product enough.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Magical Society: Beast Builder is a niche product. If you aren?t interested in monster design, or you prefer to trade technical accuracy for speed, this probably isn?t the book for you.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture
by william e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2006 00:00:00

I bought this book a while ago, and had not ahd a chance to use or read it for a while. I REALLY wish I had read it right off the bat, as it is an invaluable resource for any GM, or even an aspiring writter building his own world.
As with any Exped. Retreat product, it is very well laid out, and even more well thought out. One of the most excellent tools you can purchase.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture
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A Magical Society: Silk Road
by Anna D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/07/2006 00:00:00

Another excellent product by Expeditious Retreat. Just in time too, since I'm working on something that includes caravans and caravan routes.


<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Good information on caravans and what they carry.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Nothing to dislike.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Silk Road
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World Building Library: Fantasy Racial Foods
by Jeff T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2006 00:00:00

An interesting read for a few minutes. I printed this off and read it while waiting for the dentist in his office (no joke). It gives the reader a few decent ideas, but is not much more than a typical article you would find in a magazine. I'm glad it wasn't expensive<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: The comparison of racial foods to modern day ethnic foods<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Could have used many more examples of foods and meals. I would have like charts that I could use to determine meals.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library: Fantasy Racial Foods
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1 on 1 Adventures #1: Gambler's Quest
by Paul R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2006 00:00:00

I'd like to able to fill this box in without having to put anything in this comment 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>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1 on 1 Adventures #1: Gambler's Quest
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1 on 1 Adventures #2: The Star of Olindor
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>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1 on 1 Adventures #2: The Star of Olindor
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Seeds: Supers II
by John T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2006 00:00:00

I was very disapppointed with this copy of Seeds. In my opinion the majority of the plot seeds are difficult to integrate into an existing campaign. Many of them rely on other super teams, deaths of superheroes, etc. I only found a couple of seed that I liked.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: There are a couple of seeds that I could use.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Many of the seeds are not easy to integrate into existing campaigns.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Supers II
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Monster Geographica: Underground
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2006 00:00:00

Monster Geographica Underground (MGU) is a PDF by Expeditious Retreat. They are best known for their PDF/Book a Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe. As with that they break new ground by offering a new type of monster book. MGU focuses on creatures that can be found underground and while this is not anything new in itself (see Monster of the Endless Dark for example), this is compilation of previously released monsters. About half of the monsters had yet to be updated to 3.5 before this volume. All the monsters have been edited to make sure that they are done properly and all the little errors are nonexistent. The book offers two hundred monsters in this 200 pages of text. And its all text as to conserve on space and price no art except the cover appears in the PDF.


The PDF comes in a zip file a little under five megs in size. Inside are three different PDFs. The first is the cover done in full color and by Ravindra Rana. The other two are the bulk of the book one in designed for on the screen and the other designed to be printed. One of the highlights for me is the book marks. This is possible the most concise book marking I have seen. One of the great things they did was have the monsters listed three ways in the book marks. They are listed by challenge rating, alphabetically, and by creature type. That is a great way to make sure the creatures can be found with ease. However, there is no art. As I said they did not include art for cost and size reasons. I can understand that, but monsters are nice to have pictures of. It is just easier to envision some of these creatures using a picture then the written descriptions.

There are two hundred creatures here. I am not sure exactly how many monsters are found in the other monster books, but two hundred does sound like a good amount. They range in challenge rating from one fourth to twenty. Creature types are also very varied. One really good thing that they include is flora and fauna. These are a great addition for people who want exotic but not always deadly plants to enhance their world.

MGU is a very good monster book. The stats of the creatures were specifically all checked and redone when necessary to ensure accuracy. The two hundred monsters that come from a few dozen different sources brings together the creatures one needs to populate the underground.

<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Geographica: Underground
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World Building Library: The Prince
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2006 00:00:00

A great resource from the public domain for any DM who needs to run a convincing mediaeval warlord, together with a very useful introduction from the original translator.


As for XRP's work, the layout is clean, perhaps a little cramped, with the introduction and text butting up on the same page. It's bookmarked, but only by chapter numbers - the chapter titles would have been of great help. The PDF includes a number of period illustrations that could have been better chosen (for example, a map of classical Greece would have helped where Machiavelli talks about Greece, rather than a map of Italy, or a portrait of Giovanni or Lorenzo de'Medici would have been more interesting in the introduction). 4 1/2 stars for the idea of the series, 3 stars for presentation.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World Building Library: The Prince
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A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
by Jacob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2006 00:00:00

A Magical Medieval Society has been thoroughly reviewed, so I'll just add some comments that I think are not covered as much. The writing is quite good (easy to read and understand) and the editing is pretty good (some misspelled words and rough subsection placement), and the ideas it contains are well-reasoned. This puts a lot of knowledge about how medieval society functioned at your fingertips without you having to do nearly as much research. It's geared specifically towards integrating medieval societies more completely (and realistically) into the game, which I think provides a much better roleplaying experience. It also has instructions for generating aspects of medieval society that are often too complex for a DM to handle. What more could you ask for?


For one thing, better inclusion of magic. The discussion about how magic affects society are good, but as one of the focal points of the book they could be much better. Most information about how magic affects society is presented as ideas without enough incorporation into the instructions on how to generate manors, towns, etc. Also, the information is based strictly on the presentation of magic in the core rulebooks, which are geared towards adventurers, not society at large. It should be obvious that arcane spellcasters who are not adventurers would have a very different spell selection, geared toward accomplishing the hardest and most common tasks. These spells could easily be specialized in a way that makes them more powerful than the utility spells listed in the core rulebooks, although they'd mostly be useless to adventurers. For example, it is mentioned that the spell Mage Hand can help someone sow seeds twice as fast. However, one would expect that a spell caster would eventually develop a spell specialized for sowing (or harvesting) crops which could accomplish much more than Mage Hand, so the effect on society is larger than what comes from spells in the core rulebooks. In fact, it's possible and even likely that a spellcaster who does not go on adventures has a spell repertoire that is almost completely different from a PC wizard, other than ubiquitous spells such as Read Magic.


The problem the authors faced with assuming lots of spells that aren't in the core rulebooks is anticipating their effect on society. Actually, that's not too hard. Spells are most likely developed to accomplish the most labor intensive and unpleasant tasks. Which ones are those? Other than a few mentioned anecdotally (e.g. cleaning and harvesting), this information is not in the book. I don't think it would have been too difficult to research, especially given the depth of research which the rest of the book displays. One hint is the list of professions and their incidence rate. The fact that porter is one of the most common professions indicates that carrying things requires lots of labor -- there's probably spell casters in large cities that have spells specialized to help carry things. How does that affect society?


That said, the quality of this book is generally excellent and sufficient to allow any DM to simulate a realistically-feeling medieval society.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Great material, reasoning, and presentation.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>-
: Could have had better integration of magic into society.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe
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Seeds: Fantasy II
by Callan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/07/2006 00:00:00

Fantasy Seeds II contains about 36 adventure seeds, each about four to six sentences in length. Each seed sets up a situation that could act as the start of an adventure, though they hardly qualify as adventure ideas in themselves. None of these seeds is well developed and they are not linked in any way.


There is nothing here that is particularly original and anyone who has played D&D at all will have seen it all before. It seems unkind to criticize such an inexpensive product but I can't really recommend it to anyone except perhaps very inexperienced DM who is new to D&D and has trouble coming up with any ideas on his own. <br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: Inexpensive<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Filled with trite ideas that lead nowhere<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds: Fantasy II
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Publisher Reply:
Seeds Fantasy II contains material consistant with the free demo Seeds Fantasy I. If you enjoy Seeds Fantasy I you will also find this product enjoyable. If you don't find Seeds Fantasy I enjoyable you won't find the rest of the Seeds Fantasy line to your tastes as well.
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
by Hardy L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2006 00:00:00

This seems like a great tool-set, but it is not something you can go into lightly. So be prepared to read a lot of the material before you can use it.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: It's powerful utility in the creation of monsters<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It has a slightly painful learning curve.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society: Beast Builder
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A Magical Society Aggressive Ecology: The Undead Leviathan
by Derek H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2006 00:00:00

Once again Joseph Browning works his magic and comes up with an amazingly useful product. Though it is much more limited in scope than Beast Builder, it gets as much attention to detail for both science and fantasy.


As for the example organisms- an undead whale that has 3 stages of existance (one being just dead) and 4 living or undead symbiotes- all are very well concieved and written up, though some may not like the idea of a flying undead whale. The concept alone is useful and can be adapted to non-whale creatures.


I can't wait to see what are next in the line.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magical Society Aggressive Ecology: The Undead Leviathan
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