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Dread Isle Denizens (5E)
by Nathan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2017 15:39:43

MY RATINGS Writing - 2 Stars Formatting - 3 Stars Artwork - 3 Stars Balance - 2 Stars Monster Description - 2 Stars Mythology Accuracy - 3 Stars Creativity - 4 Stars Pricing - 2 Stars

OVERALL - 3 Stars

There was an offer available of a free copy of the book for a review and I decided to volunteer. I really like seeing what other publishers are doing and try to be encouraging to those who have dedicated themselves to creating additional materials for tabletop games. I have no official, or well-thought out, system of rating. I’ve broken down 8 different areas that I think are worth discussing.

Writing (2 Stars) The writing is not the best for it uses repetitious words, redundancies, generalizations and poor sentence flow. This is a simple fix. I looked through the credits and realized that the author did their own editing. This will always lose 3 stars with me. It is imperative that someone – outside of yourself – edits your work. It’s very difficult to be able to edit your own work. In this case, I hope the author finds someone willing to give them a hand with the editing.

There’s too many “The origin and nature of [insert monster’s name] is a mystery.” Telling the reader that “it’s a mystery” does not A) make the monster more mysterious, B) provide useful information – fill us in with information that isn’t a mystery otherwise it’s just filler.

Additionally, while I do not believe it was the author’s intent, there is some gender stereotyping in here. Example, “Tiyanak – They will go to secluded areas and cry to attract the attention of nearby rescuers, especially women.” This implies that women are more likely to save a child in distress than a man.

Formatting (3 Stars) It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst. Page 14 the sentence continues at the bottom of the page transfers to page 16 instead of page 15. This isn’t the only time something similar like this happened. I’m also not a fan of the art placement. The picture either appeared too early to too late and it seemed to me that a lengthier description of the monsters could have fixed this problem. However, the formatting is consistent throughout the book, and it is very easy to navigate.

Artwork (3 Stars) The artwork is semi-professional and varied in level of quality. It’s certainly better than what I could do, but it’s not on par with the majority of other publishers. This really opens up the debate on whether RPGs require high-level illustrations or if it’s better to return to the roots of early tabletop games. I’ve decided that 3-Stars is fair. The artwork doesn’t detract from the book and further gives a basic understanding of what the monster would appear like.

Balance (2 Stars) A bit of a disclaimer here, I find the 5th edition monsters to be unbalanced in practically every publication including official D&D materials so it’s no big surprise that I think the same of his one. The Abere (Lesser) receives 6d8 hit points, and deals extra damage whenever it has an advantage of 2d6, further it can cast spells yet, it has a challenge rating of 1. The Greater Abere is even worse, with an advantage attack of 4d6 plus acid damage and spells, and while that has a higher challenge rating it still doesn’t seem like an accurate amount of XP versus its badassery. This goes for all the creatures. It would be simple to go back and fix the challenge level by comparing it to other monsters that are like it. I could probably give some examples, but I’ll leave the research to the author.

Monster Descriptions (2 Stars) There is maybe 1 or 2 sentences regarding physical description of most monsters, which leaves the reader to heavily rely on the picture, which is okay when trying to save space, but the publication is only 33 pages so an additional paragraph worth of description would only improve this book. The adventure hooks seemed a bit cheesy, in my opinion, and would do better to have those sections replaced with additional information about the monsters such as their habitat, society, lairs, hunting habits, food preferences, and how they interact with the world. Then again, in the author’s defense, there are some gamers out there who continuously ask the question, “How am I going to put this in my game?” but I feel that stronger descriptions of the monster regarding its society, habits, personality traits, liars, habitats and so on would help spark those ideas. The old monster manual from AD&D were a perfectly good example of having enough information for players to figure out adventure hooks without being spoon fed the hook.

Mythology Accuracy (3 Stars) I give the author kudos for taking on this endeavor. There are very few game designers who draw from outside western culture to bring to their games. I did a quick search on each monster just to see how accurately they met with the articles I found. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is my expectations. When someone tackles another culture, I expect there to be more information about the monsters so that not only is this a means to give your players a hard time but it’s also an opportunity to educate them regarding a foreign culture. Some of the articles I found made the monster seem rather vague, which is a problem I suspect that the author ran into as well. When there are holes in a monster’s mythology the best thing for a writer to do is fill them with whatever you can that makes sense. The issue with this is, it pulls away from the original mythology and creates a false idea of what the creatures actually were. Here’s a rundown of what I ran into: Abere is considered a demoness in Melanesian mythology. She draws people (not just men) by her beauty. The description in the book focuses strictly on her desire for men, when she has female servants seems to very “forced” (for lack of a better word) towards a very hetero demographic.

There is a lot of information on the Aswang that could have been included, one in specifics about how it replaced its victim’s corpses with banana tree trunks. Some tales talk about the Aswang having some proboscises which it uses to suck children out of its mother’s wombs, which would make more sense if the creature was by the bed and not perched on top of the house. However, there are a lot of varying stories with this creature. Aswang’s have vulnerabilities such as displaying bloodshot eyes from having stayed up all night. Not to mention Aswangs who marry turn their spouse into another Aswang. To say the least there is a missed opportunity here to bring the mythology to a western audience.

Aumakua are greatly misrepresented here as the Hawaiian mythology sees them as gods, not as simple spirits that can be summoned at will. Celestials don’t always imply “god” and in this case of the description in the book, they are spirits that can be conjured. From my brief research, I found that Hawaiian’s revere these beings. To make a comparison to western culture, it’s like calling seraphim household spirits that can be summoned with a low level clerical spell, and further, reduce their power to a common cherub. Some of the Aumakua are quite powerful, but I don’t think they fit the “god” bill. It’s great from a summoning standpoint, not so great from a accuracy standpoint.

Buata is pretty spot on.

The Ekek is similar to a Manananggal but can fly and has a bill. It eats flesh and blood and falls within the same story as the Aswang. This is a huge misrepresentation of the myth and it seemed that whoever did the research decided to just split the story of the Aswang by regional descriptions and fill in the rest with creativity. This is okay, it’s just not accurate to the actual creature.

There really isn’t much on the Kaia with a quick google search. I did find they were once creator spirits demoted to monsters, that they were snakes, eels or pigs that inhabit the depths of the earth or volcanoes to bring destruction to humans. It would be interesting to expand the research on this creature just to know more about it.

Manananggal is pretty spot on, but again, shares a common story with the Aswang and Ekek (Wak-Wak).

Tikbalang seems to have originated in India, the horse head isn’t always a corpse, and from my understanding are tricksters which seems counter to how they are depicted in the book.

Tiyanak has a lot of information available. The entries in the book seem to be different variants to the Tiyanak myth, which I like. I do wish there was a bit more information on each being though.

Creativity (4 Stars) Writing up monster statistics is no easy feat, and finding something that fits with the creature can also be difficult, especially when there isn’t a talent featured on some other creature. A lot of the what the monsters can do was either made up, or custom tailored to fit the mythology as best as possible. I think the author did a fantastic job at putting all this together. I’m sure many game designers will agree with me that the author put in a lot of effort and it really shows.

Pricing (2 Stars) The book is priced at $4.99 which is too high in my opinion. I produce gaming materials myself and I sell 90,000 words at $15, which includes high quality illustrations which amounts to 263 pages of content. To break it down, that’s 6,000 words or 17 pages per $1, which on my scale should put this publication at about $1.99. It is up to the creator to price their own work and if sales justify the $4.99 price, then by all means keep it at $4.99 – I’m no marketing expert. I just know that if I ever was interested in purchasing this that I would wait until it was on sale or invest in something else.

Parting Thoughts… This isn’t a bad book, it’s not a great book. I’d say it’s pretty decent. If you’re looking for something different, embarking on island adventures or just want to confuse your players with something they’ve never faced before – then look no further. The best way to enjoy this is to chuck your expectations out the window, have faith that the monster statistics are solid but may need some challenge level or XP tweaking, and the adventure hooks give hints away at how the monster may interact with the world around them.

I’d give this book a 4 star rating if it had some more editing and some additional descriptions. I’d give it a 5 if the challenge ratings were re-reviewed and there was more of an educational value to the myth surrounding these creatures. However, for today, I give it a 3. **

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dread Isle Denizens (5E)
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Dread Isle Denizens (5E)
by Kevin L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2017 00:41:23

This book has some really good monsters in it, maybe only the Ekek could be used for a party between levels 2 and 3 the rest are super powerful, but that is ok, not everything as to be killed at first level. I have found a use for all the monsters but the Tiyanak and some I might even convert to other editions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
by Dennis B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2016 06:14:02

This is a well laid out boss, and remains fairly faithful to the 2e Baba Yaga. Her wizard level has been toned down (was level 25 or so in 2e), and her priest and thief abilities are missing, and missing some high level spells that I'd consider a "must have" for a hag (feeblemind, simulacrum, et. al.). Also, her HP are on the low side, I think, but, aside form that, she's excellent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2016 10:06:03

Baba Yaga is one of the those great villians/NPCs that has been back for every generation of the World's Greatest Fantasy Role-Playing Game and likely always will. I recently ran a 5th ed conversion of the 2nd ed module "Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" and this worked great. Well...and least in theory. The palyers were smart enough not to make Baba Yaga angry and instead did her a service. Still it was good to know I had these.

The book is 7 pages. Minus 1 for cover, 1 for a full page of art (which I liked), and 1 for the OGL you have 4 pages of solid D&D5 stats. More detailed than a monster entry (as it should be) there are plenty of ideas in-text to use. The best idea is of course do what you can to keep her from attacking the party! CR 26 yes, but also spell use, phyiscal attacks and magic items of unique properties. These stats live up to her legacy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
by Thomas G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 17:04:53

Disclaimer: First off I was given a copy of this PDF for free by 00Games to review. Secondly I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Baba Yaga . The whole ideal of her and the hut are interesting to me as a DM. I have the original S5 – The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga in booklet form and PDF, and have always wanted to run it. Third and maybe not last, I am a huge fan of art but do not think gaming books need or must have expensive color art thrown in them to sell them. I know many will disagree, I have found out through Facebook I am a rarity, but I think some art is ok to help inspire us gamers but not at the cost of driving up the price of the books.

The PDF of 5e compatible Baba Yaga Boss Stats from 00Games has seven pages and is currently priced at $1.95 for the PDF.

The Cover Is a sketch of Baba Yaga on parchment paper and e-zine/magazine type story line title about her and the hutt.

I like the simple sketch and layout and think it is a good cover.

Inside Cover (I am guessing) The same sketch of Baba Yaga on the cover is now a large full page black and white rendition of her and that is all that is on this page.

I do not know about this page. Only thing I can think of is print it out to show players or hand to the kids pestering you to play with the miniatures so they can color it.

Page 1 This page has the stat for Baba Yaga and her specialty abilities like Legendary Resistance and her prepared spell list and how many slots for each level she gets.

I compared it to the old S5 module. In that she is a level 25 wizard and 12th level cleric. I would have liked to have seen her built more like that, but maybe I am biased. 00Games build does put her at a CR 26 and that puts her between Ancient Gold and Red Dragons and the Tarrasque. So my preference for 25 wiz/12 cleric would probably make her more powerful than the world ending Tarrasque. I will be honest as a DM I have never ran a high CR build npc/monster against a party in 5e or in AD&D. But from the looks of what 00Games has done she is a nasty piece of work as is and for those inclined a good starting point for altering her to your liking.

Page 2 Sections of this page are Actions, Bonus Actions, Reactions, Legendary Actions and Lair Actions fill out this page completely.

After going back and forth between 00Games PDF and the S5 module I find some of these Actions help me envision the old Baba Yaga from AD&D. I might alter her a bit, but that is my own issue. Constant reading of the old module of The Dancing Hutt of Baba Yaga and falling in love with her and the ideal of her and never being able to have put her in an adventure.

Page 3 A left over Lair Action from the last page starts off this page but goes into her history. The sections of this page are History, Description, Personality, Baba Yaga’s Equipment and Tactics.

Not bad very brief over view of those things for Baba Yaga. In the old S5 module there are several of the sixty something pages for History and Personality. But most of those sixty something pages are focused on the Hutt and the interior. I would have liked Description, Personality and then History to maybe be first then her stats and Equipment and last her Tactics, but that is my personal taste in layouts. Most people or big companies producing gaming books do not like what I like, I am odd. One gripe I do have is in this new version of Baba Yaga she does not use her cauldron to fly but a mortar and pestle. WizKids made the perfect pre-painted figure for Baba Yaga and then in a later set a cauldron. When I saw the figures, her and her flying cauldron are what came to mind first thing and made me pull out my hard earned cash. So I more than likely will be altering that part of her for sure. Tactics are good and I do believe some are pilfered from the older module.

Page 4 Tactics are finished up on this page then it goes into Advenure Hooks. Then the 00Games logo and the names of those who worked on the PDF like the authors Ruben Byrd and Matt Lau.

Not bad I cannot remember off the top of my head if these are in the old module, so I will say they are simple but fun two or three sentence ideas on how to get Baba Yaga and her Hutt started in your game.

Page 5 This last page has all the required legal stuff required for them to be able to produce and distribute this PDF, in the smallest font known to gnome-kind.

Overall conclusion I like it and I am lazy so I would use this as a starting point for me to alter her to use in my 5e campaign. So I have not play tested her as she is written or have enough high level CR combat knowledge in 5e to honestly say she is a CR 26 or how she will handle in battle against PC’s. Far as pricing goes, I am trying to do a small module on crafting and asked a fellow gamer (who has stuff on DMsGuild) and a professional newspaper editor to help me out. After hours and hours of work and handing my work over to him we talked. I wanted to price my ten paged PDF (seven of it is actual content) at $2.00 or $1.99. He told me it probably won’t sell for that and to try that price first but if I don’t see downloads after a month to lower the price to $.99. So to me their price on Baba Yaga’s Boss Stats is ok maybe a thin hair high, but ok, but to some like my friend it might be high. I also still recommend getting the old S5 module with this PDF, as it has pages and pages on what happens if the players get inside the Hutt.*



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Boss Stats (5E)
by Lee E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2016 20:41:04

Yet another amazingly well written offering by these guys. Definitely will be keeping my eye out for more to come



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Boss Stats (5E)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2016 23:05:49

If you like mythology and lore, this is a must have for that reason alone. Bring this Legendary Big BOSS into your campaign and watch as she manipulates, Decimates and shows your party what a true Hag can do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2016 23:01:19

Definately a must have, with some items that might make you squimish and others that you will want on your character hands down. Grab this and add it to your Wonderous Stash!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
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Weapon Cache Vol. 01 (5E)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2016 22:59:33

If you are stuck and looking for some interesting and cool new weapons to add to your adventures this is the supplement for you!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weapon Cache Vol. 01 (5E)
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Potion Chest Vol. 01 (5E)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2016 22:58:17

Great addition to any campaign. Provides some very interesting "Flavor" to any adventure!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Potion Chest Vol. 01 (5E)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
by Lee E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2016 16:28:51

Another well written, well laid out supplement by a very talented group of people. I hope to actually, one day, have a group worthy of using this on, lol.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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Weapon Cache Vol. 01 (5E)
by Lee E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2016 16:22:05

excellent weapons that will add a ton of flavor to nearly any campaign. I can see writing a few adventures around a few of these.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weapon Cache Vol. 01 (5E)
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Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
by Lee E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2016 16:13:42

I love the wierd objects, and this delivers! I love some of the optional rules given for each item, really gives a nice touch.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
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Potion Chest Vol. 01 (5E)
by Lee E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2016 16:02:39

Very well written, the descriptions for each item allow easy storytelling opportunities. Will definately open up a ton of variety of things for players of all classes.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Potion Chest Vol. 01 (5E)
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Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/15/2016 07:29:20

There's no beating about the bush here, this product just jumps in with both feet and opens with the listing for the first wonderous item - an aberrant mask. That's pretty wierd, so I think I'll move on swiftly to the next, which is rather neat: animated caltrops. You all know what caltrops are, right? Four spikes so arranged that one is always pointing upwards - very bad for horses' hooves or anyone going around barefoot. These ones come in a box and by use of various command words they will distribute themselves according to your desires and even tidy themselves away back into the box afterwards.

With each item there's a description of what it does, often an illustration, and three novel things: optional quirks, optional flaws and a quote that sums the item up quite neatly. So for the aforementioned caltrops, the quirk is that the user tends to expect everyday objects to do what they're told and the flaw is that some of the command words are tricky to pronounce and you may have to repeat them a few times before the little beggars respond to you. Not nice if someone is chasing you...

It's all about providing something a bit out of the usual. Perhaps it is a passing huckster who tries to sell the item to the party, or something they see someone else using or something to make a stash of loot more interesting. There are some neat and flavourful ideas here, and many could spawn an interesting backstory that the party could research or may even become objects of desire that they might hear about and seek out, to the level of being the focus of an adventure.

Used sparingly, these can enhance your game and make the party think about the things that they find. Don't over-use them, though, or they will think that they are exploring a joke shop not a dungeon.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Stash Vol. 01 (5E)
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