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Dungeon Dressing: Pits
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2013 20:33:19

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32532.

Looking for a new way of dealing with pits? Or even make the pits worse by adding additional items? This is the product for you! This is straight forward, no fuss, supplement that will make pits even more deadly and fun to have in your adventures!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: As always, it is done in the traditional Raging Press Style of minimalist black and white. Which if fine and acceptable especially for supplements. The layout of information is rather easy to read and done in the traditional style.

Ease of Mobility: The nice thing about Raging Swan Press, is that they have dual formats for those who wish to print, and carry mobile. It’s nice and keeps the files light and readable.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Mechanically it’s sound, and I learned a few new things about Pits that I can use on my players in my personal campaigns. But I wouldn’t pass this on to a few others because then I know for a fact, I would get hit and die with one of these pits. Which is a good thing in the supplement’s case.

Value Add: 10 out of 10 If you are looking for something that adds flavor to the infamously boring pit, is definitely something you should purchase. With a two dollar price tag, it’s hard to not buy it.

Overall: 10 out of 10 If you are looking for something to expand your pits for your trap-filled lair, this is one of the supplements for you. The price is right, you learn new things about pits that you didn’t know before. It’s awesome and you want to take advantage of the low price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Pits
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SciFi Diner
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 21:06:55

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32452.

Some things don’t change, even in the sci-fi worlds. Before your characters hit the bars, or afterwards, they just might need to grab some basic food. This is where SciFi Diner comes in! There’s nothing too fancy about this place, but there are seven seats at the bar, twelve booths, and something warm in the nutrient tanks. Entry is through an airlock door, so the diner could be set in the mean streets of the starport, the halls of a starship, radioactive ruins, or within the vacuum of space outside. The choice is yours!

OVERALL

SciFi Diner is an excellent map, allowing the players to have a fulfilling sci-fi diner experience. An interesting combination of high-tech and seedy street feel makes this the perfect place for that nice hot bowl of ramen (or unidentifiable soup) for a possibly edible meal.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Personally, I’m suspicious of high ratings, but I can’t find anything wrong with this battlemat! It is beautifully rendered. DramaScape has, as usual, done an excellent job of sizing the segments across multiple pages. The pieces go together seamlessly. This product includes square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless version of the diner, complete with kitchen, storage area, bar, main corridor with booths, and an optional add-on bathroom.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 This map has captured the grungy feeling of a greasy-spoon diner blended with the high-tech props that might be expected at a starport. The coloration is an urban grey cast, with a lot of thought put into the placement of the features. The booths have a nice solid wall separating them, which is a nice touch when the plasma weapons come out and people need a place to dive for cover. As a bonus, the PDF has an amazing 360° dynamic panoramic view on page 6 that lets you rotate an image of the diner in Adobe Acrobat Reader for a full view from the perspective of someone standing near the bar.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10 I’m going to combine this with DramaScape’s excellent SciFi Bars when I run my next science fiction game. SciFi Diner is a perfect place for whispered conspiracy in the booths, or a frenzied firefight down the main corridor. This product comes with great instructions. If you want this to last forever, I suggest that you decide which white edges to keep so that the pieces can be held together, laminate the pieces, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that everything is properly held together. Alternately, you can cut off all the edges and just butt the laminated pieces together using transparent tape so that nothing shifts or stains when enthusiastic players jostle the table during the blaster battle.

Overall: 10 out of 10 SciFi Diner is a fine addition to your science fiction gaming, and another quality piece from DramaScape. The design and rendering of this diner is excellent, and you’ll have fun using it for your futuristic adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SciFi Diner
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The Secrets of Adventuring (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2013 20:47:32

The following pre-release review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30768.

The Secrets of Adventuring offers a host of new insights and options for your characters to make your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game feel new again! The sourcebook brings you new tools to help you create the type of character you want to play without breaking the game.

OVERALL

Now for this review, I am breaking formatting protocol intentionally. (To the inevitable serious displeasure of my Editor)

But! I do this because, this sourcebook may or may not be published when this review debuts. Currently, this product is being pre-ordered in a bundle setup via Cubicle 7 Entertainment (at the Paizo Webstore) which means for one price you get both the PDF and printed copy. The copy I received is only the PDF copy, so I did not get the opportunity to review the printed copy. I state this, to let my readers know that I am reviewing simply on the content and the digital format and that the printed item may vary, but probably not by much.

Also, this review will be incredibly long, so before you dig in, I wanted to give a short version of my review for those who are still on the fence about buying this product or not. That being said, here we go!

Overall, I think this book has wonderful things to add to the Pathfinder RPG System. But those of us who are used to the traditional formatting of RPG books, may have a little trouble navigating it, which could frustrate some. Also, the price of the book for the content that you receive may make you wonder what you paid for, but don’t be deterred (please note that prices of printed books from Cubicle 7 Entertainment are set by Cubicle 7 Entertainment and not the publishing studio). If you are looking for material to add to your classes and campaigns in 2013, this is definitely a product to consider investing in if you like what you read in my review below.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The layout is clean and simple. Someone has been reading my reviews, and the bookmarks are spot on! Which makes navigating this rather big book a lot easier! The entire format is done in black and white which will be nice if you plan on printing it out. The artwork, while nice, is rather huge and sometimes takes whole pages and adds to the page count. But it’s done with the mission that it separates sections and chapters, which I can also appreciate.

Ease of Mobility: The downside to this product is that digitally it’s HUGE! So transferring and navigating through mobile means is incredibly cumbersome. Now granted, this digital product is formatted for print, so I won’t hold it against them too hard, but it would be nice to have a formal version and a mobile-light version for those who buy the bundle pack. Another thing I should mention, that if you are a Paizo diehard, and are used to seeing your books in an organized format such as classes/archtypes, feats, traits, spells, etc, this book doesn’t quite have that format. They are all lumped together with the main class, which makes navigating through for one specific item a little harder. With the bookmarks in their proper place this time, it significantly makes this a lot easier.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10 My big thing about this product is that it is being advertised as something that “Enhances the game, without breaking the game.” But frankly, after looking at all the feats, mechanics, spells and archetypes, this product is built to break the game. A plain cleric or gunslinger from Paizo’s designs in comparison to the options provided here are seriously different and in some cases ruin the mechanics of the RPG. Now this isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something to consider if you plan on mixing the options between a Paizo core class and these core classes. Overall it’s not a terrible product, but it’s hard to make the two of them sync.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 Now this subject takes a little bit of a hit. So this product is currently at press time valued at $34.99 and being sold as a Print/PDF bundle. But $35 bucks is a little bit of a high price for a product that is mostly a compilation of a lot of works they have already published. Perhaps if there were pregens or other options that were added on to give a little more new OOMPH! to the product, I could see the price tag being that high. Granted, you have printing costs, but I’m still seeing a price gap. (Again, the pricing is set by Cubicle 7 Entertainment and not Rite Publishing.)

Now if you have some extra cash to spare and you are a fan of Rite Publishing and their class options, then this is something you should consider getting. It’s not a terrible product, and if you haven’t already committed to some other big 3rd party buy-in (Yes, I’m looking at you Pathfinder Online Kickstarter Supporters..) then this is something to take a look at.

Overall: 8 out of 10 Overall, this isn’t a bad product, it’s a good product. But this isn’t a cheap product, so make sure that when you get ready to purchase this product, you have the cash to drop. If not, I would recommend waiting until the PDF-only option becomes available.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of Adventuring (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Dread Captain Miraxa, Queen Corsair of the Slumbering Sea (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2013 08:06:36

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32275.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk meets Pirates of the Caribbean in the best possible way. Dread Captain Miraxa would add all sorts of swashbuckling goodness to any seafaring campaign. On dry land, while still effective, she isn’t nearly as cool. Miraxa is a bit of a departure from the normal fare for the folks over at Rite Publishing, in this case the risk paid off.

OVERALL

It wasn’t just the fact that Captain Miraxa was a pirate that made this product stand out from the usual stable of characters that comprise the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, the amount of ancillary information included in this supplement made me want to take to the seas with much quickness. The information about Miraxa’s ship was great and there is some really good source material here.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 Not much new to say, Rite has the brand established for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series and between the borders of the pages, the clear typeface and even the cover art, anyone looking for the products know what to look for. The cover art was good, not great but good and I knew I was looking at Miraxa right away. The stock art in this supplement was hit and miss as it normally is. Fortunately there is pirate stock art out there; however most of it is not geared towards fantasy settings. While historically accurate in the real world, most of the art felt wrong for this setting. Some of the art would be great for a game like 7 seas, but not here.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Because the folks at Rite Publishing went a little out of their comfort zone with this product, you would think there would be growing pains, but there were not. The rules for the use of Horrifically Overpowered feats need to be read several times to really make sense; in fact I found it best to read them out loud to myself to ensure I got them right. Even with the personal need to re-read those rules several times, in the end they make sense and what do you expect from a feat that is horrifically overpowered. Rite Publishing took the time to give good solid explanations for the magic items and weapons that are included in Dread Captain Miraxa, and these weapons and items feel much more alive because of it.

Value Add: 10 out of 10 I actually believe this product has as much, if not more, use in other settings than it does in the Tarnished Souk. I understand there is a sea and interesting things happen there, but where this product would really shine is a purely nautical campaign. The good captain fits quite well in this setting, but boy imagine having to deal with her on the Sea of Fallen Stars!

Overall: 10 out of 10 The inclusion of information about Captain Miraxa’s boat combined with interesting weapons and magic items would have made this product good enough. Captain Miraxa is unusual (even for the Souk) and her cold blooded (pun intended) approach to her business makes hers a ship I would not want to pass in the night. This is a great product and even if you are running a game that has nothing to do with the Tarnished Souk or the Coliseum. Buy this product it will not leave you lost at sea.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Dread Captain Miraxa, Queen Corsair of the Slumbering Sea (PFRPG)
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Dark Waters Rising
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2013 14:09:53

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32079.

Catastrophe strikes the frontier village of Swallowfeld! With a grinding groan, the town’s mill slews into the Kilian River and breaks through the ceiling of an ancient subterranean dungeon. This accident frees a long-imprisoned evil to prey upon the shocked townsfolk. When several Swallowfeld residents—some innocent and some not so innocent—are spirited away into the rapidly flooding dungeon, it falls to a brave group of heroes to venture underground and rescue the missing before dark, rising waters seal their fate.

Reviewers Note: I have done my best to keep spoilers down to a minimum. But if you plan on playing this adventure, please do not read this review to prevent the terrible curse known as “meta-gaming”.

OVERALL

This is a no-stress, no mess adventure that you can drop in and out of your campaign/game night with little to no prep as needed. It is indeed a very fun adventure worth it’s weight in gold (in and out of game!)

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The layout of the adventure is done in the traditional Raging Swan Press style of minimalist black and white. While it’s not a bad thing, it kind of irritates me. When you look at an adventure, you want there to be some color, you want there to be some life and energy in the adventure that makes a GM want to run and a player want to play. With the format, the way it is, it’s kinda… Unexciting… But it doesn’t take away from the adventure in the same respect as well. It’s just something to note for those who are used to full color adventures.

Ease of Mobility: The file is light and easy to manage from mobile to print. The plus side of minimalist formats is that they are ink friendly.

Maps: The maps are simple and light. Easy to draw for those who hate drawing maps, but if you wanted to blow them up and print them out, that can also be arranged quite easily.

Storyline: 9 out of 10 Plot Development: The plot of the story is pretty linear–Bad stuff happens to a mine, and the party needs to go down and not only save the innocent people who are still trapped down there, but in the same respect they need to destroy whatever is down there causing bad things in the mine. Although the plot is pretty linear, it’s still a great adventure! Ron Lundeen is one of my favorite adventure writers in Pathfinder Organized Society Play.

Pacing of Story: The pacing of the story is rather quick and rightfully so due to the nature of the adventure. It always has this sense of urgency, but it does leave a GM time to add in roleplay before and/or after the adventure as needed. If you want to expand from there, you also have that option.

Desire to Play: 9 out of 10 NPC Interactions: The NPC interactions are a little flat, but there is room for a GM to expand upon them and make them memorable. If you have charismatic characters, I would recommend fleshing them out a bit, as they can be quite fun!

Encounters and Rewards: The encounters are appropriate to the level, and leave a good amount of a challenge for those who are combat oriented. The XP is fine, and the treasure is a little lacking. GMs can make up for that by dropping their own special items.

Overall: 9 out of 10 For Players: Dark Waters Rising is a great adventure for players who like crawling through dungeons and discovering the many secrets this city and area have to offer! The possibilities are endless and you will have no problem going where and doing whatever you want.

For GMs: If you are having a campaign dry spell, or looking for a new location, Dark Waters Rising definitely helps with that! You can run it standalone and have a good time, or you can add it into a campaign or even expand from this one adventure alone!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Waters Rising
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SciFi Bars
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2013 08:23:19

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32451.

Grab your blaster, plasma sword, and deflection harness! It’s time to hit the cantina or, better yet, that nice place at the other end of town where they serve Xentaxian Ale! SciFi Bars is an excellent battlemap for those nights on the town at the local starport. You can easily use this battlemap for classic sci-fi adventures, or for mystery scenarios where the characters encounter futuristic landscapes. The main focus of this battlemap is the high-tech entertainment environment, combined with features that support all sorts of tactical options. What players get is a set of two 48 x 30 inch full-color floor plans of futuristic bars.

OVERALL

SciFi Bars is an excellent map, allowing the players to have a complete sci-fi bar experience in two completely different classes of establishment. It is complete, even down to the toilets and toxic waste drums! I’ll definitely be using this in my next sci-fi run.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages. This product includes a square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless version of each location. The pieces go together seamlessly. If you want to have this battlemat last forever, I suggest that you decide which white edges to keep so that the pieces can be held together properly, laminate the pieces, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that, once assembled at the table, everything is properly placed. Alternately, you can cut off all the white edges and just butt the pieces together using transparent tape so that nothing shifts or stains when players knock their drinks over in their haste to blast away at the bad guys.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 This map has perfectly captured the grungy feeling of a lower-class starport cantina for the first location as well as the clean, high-tech feel of a classy establishment for the second location. The coloration is vibrant, with a variety of well-crafted terrain features.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10 I’m using this in my next science fiction game! SciFi Bars is the perfect place for a some high-tech hijinks. I’ve already laminated and assembled the nastier cantina, and will soon have the classy circular bar ready for adventure as well.

Overall: 10 out of 10 SciFi Bars is an excellent addition to your science fiction gaming and another quality piece from DramaScape. The designs of both establishments are excellent, and the creators have a perfect grasp of how to put together an excellent product for futuristic adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SciFi Bars
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Jubal D'tirn, The Fool's Champion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/18/2013 20:42:40

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32274.

He’s just a good ole’ boy trying to gain glory. When he isn’t fighting gladiatorial battles in the Coliseum, he passes his time in a tent made of animal hides plying his trade as a taxidermist. His unintended slight of the Kahn has led to his possession of a cursed weapon. What’s not to like about this guy?

OVERALL

Yet another solid product for Rite Publishing’s Faces of the Tarnished Souk. With Jubal D’tirn, I felt like he was a little closer to a normal person than many of the other faces in the Tarnished Souk (if such a thing is possible). I see a guy who isn’t bad at fighting, but made a simple mistake that could cost him his life. It’s funny, but we all know someone similar to Jubal: a person who isn’t completely out of the game, but if one little thing had happened differently they might be on top of the world.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 7 out of 10 I’m going to ding Rite Publishing on this one, because at this stage of the game there is no reason they should have editing problems. I know no one is perfect, but if I can catch some editing mistakes, then someone else in the food chain should have done the same thing. The cover art for this book is great and because of the small amount of actual pictures, I wasn’t as turned off by Rite Publishing’s use of the reverse white and black or what I call the photo negative quality in the pictures. I am still not a fan of Rite’s extensive use of stock art, but by presenting it in this manor they gave a few pictures a second lease on life. The graphics for the Enraged Giant Hellhound were actually saved by the reversal of white and black.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 I often complain or at least mention how complex some of the NPCs from the Tarnished Souk are. With this product, I tried to put that aside and look at Jubil as a plot device and what he could do for me as a GM. When I shifted my previously narrow view, what I was able to see was a versatile and modular NPC that, for some reason, seemed even more real than some of the other faces from the Souk. There is quite a bit of good advice on how to integrate Jubal into your game and ways to use his powers. I would have loved to have even more information on good ideas for making Jubal come to life, but in no way did I feel like I was left hanging.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 Souk tested, player approved. Because of the folksy vibe I got from Jubal, he really could be used as an interesting NPC, especially at his lower levels. His story is compelling and with minor tweaks I could see Jubal as the taxidermist in a town or even a decent sized village. Some of the magic items introduced in this supplement are really interesting and would add some real excitement to most games.

Overall: 9 out of 10 Editing problems aside, Jubal D’tirn, The Fool’s Champion is one of those NPCs you kind of love to hate. I actually don’t think he would be a bad guy to hang out with. I would rather not be on the receiving end of his sword, even if it is cursed. I could see Jubal being the kind of recurring character that would produce tons of plot hooks and dynamic interactions. This supplement is worth the money don’t be a fool, be a champion and learn more about Jubal D’tirn.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Jubal D'tirn, The Fool's Champion (PFRPG)
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API Worldwide: South America 1st Edition
Publisher: Third Eye Games
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2013 20:48:10

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32063.

Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is set within the United States in the core rulebook. Third Eye Games expands the game’s options and territories by presenting these API WorldWide sourcebooks. South America does what the title says, presents new options for those wishing to take their game to South America. However, instead of just presenting you with a new location, South America introduces new species and conflicts that further expand the Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. canon. This method of releasing products does two things: Expands the setting of API and introduces uniqueness throughout the world whereas one location doesn’t simply feel like another in terms of how the history of the area, from an API perspective, unfolded.

OVERALL

I really like the API WorldWide sourcebooks, and truly appreciate their uniqueness regarding the overall Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. canon. One thing prevalent throughout is how the fluff and mechanics are flavored to match the setting, in this case South America and the Amazon. If you want to extend your games into South America, this is the best way to do it.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 API WorldWide: South America is a good looking book. It is not without editing errors and possible tweaks to illustration sizing, but overall it is a high-quality publication with excellent artwork and a clean layout and format. It follows the standards previously presented in API books and executes that standard appropriately.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 The mechanics of API WorldWide: South America is where this book truly shines. Not just because they give you new options, but because they take the fluff content and translate them well into in-game mechanics, again all flavored to match the setting. It’s always nice to have new options, but it feels much more cohesive to have those new options completely match the flavor of the setting from which they originate.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 API WorldWide: South America does a fantastic job of extending the game’s setting into South America. This presents a lot more fluff and conflict opportunities. Even without using the new in-game mechanics, much of the source content can be incorporated into games within other continents should the organizations within South America decide to branch out to other areas. It truly is an all-encompassing book.

Overall: 9 out of 10 API WorldWide: South America is a definite value-add to Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. If only for the extension of the game’s canon, you can further flesh out your own campaigns by introducing new elements coming from South America. Otherwise, you can take your came to a completely different location and place the PCs within the heart of the Amazon, for whatever reason. Sourcebooks like this really grow the overall options of the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
API Worldwide: South America 1st Edition
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Oriental Interiors
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2013 21:15:14

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=32046.

Oriental Interiors is a beautiful battlemap that accurately captures the feel of iconic oriental adventuring environments. There are nine locations, with each one representing a classic spot where intrigue and martial arts are equally likely to occur.

OVERALL

Oriental Interiors allows the players to have an excellent oriental role-playing experience, whether set in a contemporary or fantasy environment. The maps include two small homes, a moneylender/money exchanger, a street side food stand, two shops side by side (one selling books and portraits, with meals and drinks on the other side), three shops side by side with a warehouse behind them for storing stock (futons, containers, and fruits), a dojo, an exclusive soba diner, an upstairs area with styling similar to the soba diner, and a mill with a waterwheel and a creek. Each map is presented with Hex, Square and No-overlay versions; you will need to check which pages these are to save printing unwanted pages.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 DramaScape has released a perfect set of locations for enjoying the feel of oriental adventures. The square-grid, hex-grid, and gridless versions of each location are extremely well represented. In addition to a full set of overhead maps, there are a series of profile images that allow players to see what the room might look like when entered. I am deeply impressed by the quality of this product.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 This map constitutes a set of perfectly rendered locations. The coloration is vibrant, with thin black lines for the square and hex grid that allow perfect positioning without detracting from the visual experience. Each location has a variety of well-crafted features that lend authenticity to the setting.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10 To be honest, I rarely run oriental-based adventures, but this set of maps has changed my stance! Oriental Interiors is the perfect place for major misunderstandings involving shady organized crime syndicates, ninjas, high-flying martial arts escapades, or a harmonious tea ceremony interrupted by Things From Beyond. What you get is a full set of oriental locations that are ready for adventure!

Overall: 10 out of 10 Oriental Interiors is an excellent addition to your fantasy or pulp environments and another quality piece from DramaScape. By providing a wide assortment of locations perfectly keyed to the oriental feel, Oriental Interiors allows the Game Master to run the full oriental adventure experience with a full set of tactical options, whether the characters are having a nice meal with allies or tearing up the rice mill while battling the local crime lord.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Oriental Interiors
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Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/12/2013 20:39:56

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=31014.

From the best of the best in the industry, comes an eight-island, five-adventure anthology of exploration and swashbuckling encounters with the unknown. Journeys to the West expands the Midgard Campaign Setting across the sea, where new wonders and dangers lurk.

OVERALL

Journeys To The West, was a Kickstarter project that Kobold Quarterly usually hosts twice a year to allow fans to determine what they should work on. Boy did those who supported this project get their money’s worth! Journeys to The West, is something that all publishers, writers and designers of RPGs should read. But if you are just a general gamer, this is the product for you as well. If you are not a proud owner already, get a copy, it awaits you!

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10 Presentation of Layout: The layout is clean, simple and gorgeous! They layout items in the same fashion as Paizo Publishing when it comes to locations, archetypes, items, etc. It makes navigating rather simple.

Ease of Mobility: The bookmarks are off a bit, but not by much, add to the fact that it is done in a style in which players can easily reference a section, compensates for that. Transferring to mobile is nice and light, without losing the quality of the file. But this is a product that needs to be printed, and sat on a gaming table!

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Mechanically, it is a fairly sound product. After reading Dragons of the Empire the traits in this one, kind of aren’t as WOW as that supplement book, but it’s not a deal breaker.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10 This product, is one of those turning point supplements for the Midgard Series. It not only expands the world to another place, but it allows for many more new adventures to come! What I love about this supplement, is that it creates new opportunities through the adventures to allow players the opportunity to expand the game to all these new locations!

Overall: 10 out of 10 It’s a great product and for those of you who kickstarted it to make it a reality, thank you. This is a product that Pathfinder fans will love forever.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Smiles-Under-the-Bed (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2013 23:08:22

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=31579.

Now they’ve done it! Rite Publishing has statted out the Cheshire Cat. Well not exactly the Cheshire Cat that you would expect interacting with Johnny Depp, gracing a classic Disney movie, or even in the twisted pages of Mr. Carroll’s novel. I mean at no time were the versions of the Cheshire Cat that Hollywood and literature have given us described as a mangy grey feline that is always hacking and mewling, appearing old and sick. Yes That famous Cheshire Cat and Smiles-Under-the-Bed are both unhinged, but Smiles-Under-the-Bed crushes dreams and ushers in nightmares of the highest order!

OVERALL

Minus the gimmicky (completely Cheshire Cat) magic item, this was a concise, well done product. Smiles-Under-the-Bed is a bit limited in use outside of the Souk, but still makes for a nasty NPC that will make you feel like you’ve stepped on a cold hairball with bare feet in the middle of the night.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 This series is well branded and established and Rite Publishing is smart to stick with that formula. My gripe as usual is their use of stock art when there are thousands of artists out there looking for publishing credits. The cover looks original, but I feel like the cover art for Smiles-Under-the-Bed could have broken the traditional cover format and showed her in either form or transitioning between the two. The rest of the book minus the stock art is top notch and has progressed in quality well beyond the size and budget that Rite Publishing has.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Still complex and deadly; anything with a CR 19 is going to be hard to run. Smiles-Under-the-Bed is much more manageable at her lowest level but the addition of several templates can fade into the background and be overlooked in the heat of battle if a GM is not careful.

Value Add: 8 out of 10 Because Smiles-Under-the-Bed is so dream focused, her use outside of the Souk is more limited than some other Faces that Rite Publishing has produced. Smiles-Under-the-Bed has a reclusive nature that, if not played properly, could cause her to become a “break only in case of high level encounter” kind of NPC. To be honest I don’t think I would like to deal with Smiles-Under-the-Bed in any situation.

Overall: 9 out of 10 It is good to see the Cheshire Cat statted out and made into an Emo, Grunge, highly deadly, nightmare of a creature. If they hadn’t made a new magic item that creates a floating smile, I don’t think I would have rated this higher. I understand the homage, but it came off a little cheesy. Smiles-Under-the-Bed is the last thing you want to run into in a dark alley in the realm of dreams!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Smiles-Under-the-Bed (PFRPG)
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Wagons Roll
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/07/2013 20:32:35

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=31790.

Wagons Roll is a more of a set of accessories than a battlemap, though there are pages with sections that form long streets or trail segments for encounters. There are also a number of wagons, horses, cattle, and various objects that might be encountered on the road. The first two images show what all of the terrain pieces look like together at a smaller scale, followed by the individual pages set at a 1″ equal to 5′ scale. The smaller pieces can be placed on other battlemaps or on the road sections to simulate a variety of situations. What players get, once the sheets are cut out or assembled, is a set of road sections with ample items to cover any sorts of road encounters in either urban or rural environments.

OVERALL

Wagons Roll is an excellent production, allowing the players to have complete road encounters. An wide and interesting variety of items is provided, including horses, cattle, upended wagons, wheels lying on the road, log sections, boulders, and both rural and urban streets upon which to place them. This battlemap can save a lot of time and replace hand-drawn items on other battlemaps with high-quality images that give an excellent tactical feel to overland encounters.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments to fit diverse items. It also includes a square-grid and hex-grid version for each image. I’m very picky on sizing of images for battlemaps, and I noticed that the horses were a bit large for the declared 1″ equals 5′ scale, but that’s just me. I went to the trouble of measuring the largest Clydesdale to see how they fit, assuming large draft horses. The largest horses on Earth are just over nine feet in length from nose to tail, while the scale of these makes them 12 to 13 feet in length. So, these are heroic-scale horses. On the bright side, there’s plenty of room on each to conduct a good fencing match! Other than this minor quibble, everything works out very well.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 This map has captured the essence of what sorts of things players expect to see on an overland road encounter, both on urban streets and out in the rural trails. Both the road sections and the objects to be placed on them are extremely well crafted. My own players will soon be facing some of these items in the next convention game, so it’s money well-spent.

Desire to Use: 9 out of 10 I’ll be using this in my next convention run, since I happen to have heroic-scale horses in my game world! Wagons Roll is an excellent product for misunderstandings on the road, or even for pleasant encounters. The construction is such that desired sections can be easily cut out, which is exactly what I’ll be doing shortly. What you get for your money is a full road or trail experience for your fantasy role-playing encounters.

Overall: 9 out of 10 Wagons Roll is an excellent addition to your fantasy or pulp environments and another quality piece from DramaScape. By focusing on visually appealing accessories, Wagons Roll allows the Game Master to the players with high overland adventure with excellent visual quality.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wagons Roll
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Ancient Temple Interior
Publisher: DramaScape
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2013 20:38:02

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=31789.

Ancient Temple Interior is a dark, dismal battlemap that accurately captures the feel of an ancient holy place. The visual appeal is a matter of textures and a combination of rubble and areas that appear to be actively maintained. This means that you can easily use this battlemap for classic fantasy delves, or for more modern scenarios involving pulp-action characters compelled to discover ancient treasures. The main focus of this battlemap is the ominous environment, combined with features that support many tactical options in a conflict. What players get, once the sheets are assembled, is a 20″ by 48″ main temple, with a secret 7″ x 8″ ritual chamber and treasure area that can be placed against any wall and accessed by a secret door.

OVERALL

Ancient Temple Interior is an excellent map, allowing the players to have the full delving experience. It is complete as a temple, though support areas like kitchens and barracks are not included. There is a raised dais with four sets of steps coming up from each direction, a main hall with pillars, and plenty of room down the length for some spirited archery encounters involving dodging and diving behind obstructions.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 DramaScape has done an excellent job of sizing the battlemap segments across multiple pages. It also includes a square-grid, hex-grid, gridless, and Virtual Tabletop version. I was initially concerned that the overall coloration was too dark but when actually printed, the faint yellow lines of the squares or hexes are easily visible and do not in any way detract from the dark and ancient feel of the environment. Owners of this product can choose where to cut the white edges off so that they can assemble the pieces in a way that allows them to combine seamlessly. My suggestion for the best final result is to laminate the pieces once this decision is made, then use non-permanent double-sided tape on the white edges so that, once assembled, nothing shifts or stains when players get excited and spill their beverages their haste to battle the evil cultists.

Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10 This map has perfectly captured the eerie feeling that should accompany a nice delve into the unknown. The coloration is dark and subtle with torches, broken statues, mystical symbols, and a variety of well-crafted terrain features. It also has a fantastic ancient look, showing that the environment has seen many centuries of holy or unholy ritual.

Desire to Use: 10 out of 10 I’m using this in my next convention run! Ancient Temple Interior is the perfect place for a major misunderstanding involving the minions of the deities. The size is perfect for one of the standard rectangular tables used in most gaming areas, and the construction is such that the temple can be gradually revealed rather than being assembled all at once for smaller play areas. What you get is a full temple experience whether it is in the age of swords and spells, or pistols and dynamite!

Overall: 10 out of 10 Ancient Temple Interior is an excellent addition to your fantasy or pulp environments and another quality piece from DramaScape. By focusing on the main temple chamber rather than mundane support areas, Ancient Temple Interior allows the Game Master to focus the attention of the characters on high adventure and tactical conflict.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Temple Interior
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Adventure Quarterly #3 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/28/2013 15:10:36

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=31315.

Modules and pre-made adventures drove the RPG industry for years and are a mainstay to this day. Rite Publishing has reached into its stall of great writers and has unleashed their sick little monkey minds to putting their spin on what adventures could and should be.

OVERALL

Rite Publishing has the right idea with Adventure Quarterly #3 and executed it well. Many game developers are reaching back to the good ol’ days where there were a few big game developers that produced these books with soft, thin covers that came out at very specific time intervals and could be found on shelves or racks. One could even arrange to have these magical publications delivered to ones’ dwelling.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10 The cover of this product is interesting; I would have liked to see the entire cover broken into separate quarters that better reflected the varied contents in this publication. I know it would have made things busy but it would have been cool, even breaking the cover into three sections with a creature, NPC or scene from each of the three adventures would have been kind of neat. As-is, the cover focuses on the first adventure The Red Leaves Enigma by Alex Putnam. Rite Publishing continues their practice of reusing art in the book, a common practice for many RPG developers. There is a much higher amount of color art in this product than I have seen in other Rite Publishing products. In digital form some of the art looks really pixilated. The jury is still out on the maps in this product; they are good enough, but I think some of them might have been better in black and white. The layouts are smooth and the fonts easily readable. The page borders are the standard sepia lion borders that Rite Publishing has used often.

Mechanics/Storyline: 8 out of 10 From the highest to lowest levels, the folks over at Rite Publishing know game mechanics. This is best illustrated in many of Matt Banach’s products that take place on the plane of dreams where several normal rules like gravity are often broken. The folks at Rite Publishing are not afraid to tackle tough situations that would normally cause long discussions at the gaming table, causing a significant loss of gaming time. As a GM I appreciate the way they write these potentially complex rules so that everyday folks can understand and use them. The biggest problem I had with these adventures was the amount of really blatant railroading built into them; with the first adventure The Red Leaves Enigma being the least “on rails.” Banach was the head conductor when it came to the railroading game, but that doesn’t mean the adventures are not mechanically sound or fun to play.

Value Add: 9 out of 10 The three adventures highlighted here should keep a gaming group busy for several gaming sessions at several different stages in their adventuring careers. However, the size of the maps and their lack of scale make it difficult to make them work. The Dungeon Dressings and articles do have a universal gaming appeal, but they are just icing on the Pathfinder adventure cake that this book is.

Overall: 9 out of 10 If you are playing Pathfinder, Adventure Quarterly #3 will definitely give you the most bang for your buck; after all it was designed for Pathfinder. I would like to see Matt Banach step out of the dream realm and see what he can do when players have to have their feet on the ground. I love what he does on the plane of dreams and I understand why he dwells there so much, but I’d like to see a change of pace from him. Dream Harvest really showed me just how much this product needs scaled maps as many of the encounters pre-suppose the use of miniatures. Sealing the Vault by Michael Welham was interesting, but it seemed like it had a back story that couldn’t be fully realized in this short adventure. This is not uncommon in higher level adventures, but I found the writing for this adventure confusing at times as Welham decided to explain what the creature “big boss” at the end had done to get to the end, and while the information was good, it muddied the waters a bit. It should be noted that these adventures rely heavily on possession of Pathfinder Bestiary 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #3 (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Perfect Aneshka, Fate's Immaculate Blade (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2013 14:41:24

The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30980.

There are some folks you just don’t mess with even in an RPG. If you are running around the Tarnished Souk then there is a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time and effort making your character awesome. Aneshka could ruin all of your hard earned efforts really quickly: really, really quickly.

OVERALL

Perfect Aneshka is a compelling NPC that I would rather be on the good side of. Like so many of the faces in the Tarnished Souk she has an interesting back story that a fantasy novel could easily be written about. Not surprisingly she has so many traits and talents that make her almost undefeatable and complex to run properly.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10 Rite Publishing was smart to stick with the black and white for their art on this one. Because of their rampant use of stock art some of their products still come off visually as a bit disjointed. I’m not sure if the cover art inspired the character or if it was the other way around, but no matter how it happened they got this one right. The art is simplistic, yet it still conveys the aesthetic lifestyle that Aneshka leads. Based on the extensive detail, I’m guessing this is original cover art. Not only does it fit her description, but her magical bracers, swords and even her neck tattoo are included. The interior art is stock and the varying styles are a bit of a detractor. The page boarders for this book are typical for the series and work just fine.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10 Nothing having to do with the Coliseum Morpheuon is ever simple, mechanically speaking, and Banach and Sluder do an outstanding job of making the impossibly complex manageable. When you have a creature/character that is a CR 22 at it’s highest, there is going to be a lot of rules consultation and numbers crunching. This supplement, like many of the others in the series, does a good job of making those things manageable and useable. There is no escaping some of the complexities but their management is done well by Rite Publishing.

Value Add: 8 out of 10 Because of the extensive templates involved with Aneshka, this product is defiantly geared towards the Pathfinder system. Yes, the concept of Perfect Aneshka, Fate’s Immaculate Blade can be used in other settings and systems, but as written no way. Because of her powers and abilities, Aneshka must be used very carefully. I would compare her to an unlocked loaded gun; not dangerous just sitting there, but could be game changing in the wrong or even the right hands. If you are running a game that has anything to do with Pathfinder, the Tarnished Souk or even extra planer travel, then Aneshka is a good character to use.

Overall: 9 out of 10 FoTS: Perfect Aneshka, Fate’s Immaculate Blade is yet another well thought-out, well-edited and high quality product. It remains complex and full of crunchiness but that does not mean it isn’t a great product. The Tarnished Souk is a deadly place and the addition of characters like Aneshka just re-enforce that fact.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Perfect Aneshka, Fate's Immaculate Blade (PFRPG)
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