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A Necromancer's Grimoire: The Book of Purifying Flames
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/25/2011 23:14:38
I really liked this one; the little opening vignette does a nice job of setting up the theme of the book. As subsystems go, this one is pretty simple, and it will incorporate nicely into an existing game with a minimum of fuss. Unlike the other reviewer, I have no particular problem with the alignment system as it exists, though I do use a numerical sub-system from the Book of Hallowed Might for descriptive purposes. Anyway, the system described herein isn't any more unbalanced than the paladin class - purifying flames are great at destroying evil things (unless those evil things are resistant to fire) but leave good (and usually neutral) things untouched by the flames. Very cool. I will be using this book's material HEAVILY in my campaign for followers of my Sun/Justice god.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Necromancer's Grimoire: The Book of Purifying Flames
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Character Theme: Crusader (3.5)
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/03/2011 22:36:47
This product line went out of print a while ago, but the fine folks at Alea Publishing Group have been kind enough to reintroduce them. (Thanks for that, by the way!)

Anyway, the character theme (formerly subclass) is a fascinating extra piece of character development based off of multiclassing XP penalties. In this case, it gives some paladin-like abilities to a faithful character to use to represent their religion in battle. It's a neat idea, and it's executed well. In fact, as Alea finished re-releasing the line, I'm planning to base a PC group around the use of subclasses.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Theme: Crusader (3.5)
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Book of Experimental Might II: Bloody, Bold, and Resolute
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2008 20:59:47
This is nothing short of brilliant. It pretty much completely obviates the need for things like the Tome of Battle. The original BoXM may or may not have worked for the average game, but this belongs on every d20 fantasy table.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Experimental Might II: Bloody, Bold, and Resolute
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Emerging Forms - KaNgrej
Publisher: Primal Urge Games
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/19/2008 20:19:25
This is NOT an ECL+0 race. A race that can breathe underwater, with a burrow speed, a swim speed, and a +2 to natural armor is at least +1 ECL, regardless of the lack of any ability adjustments and the water-dependant drawback. Still, cool idea.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Emerging Forms - KaNgrej
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Untapped Classes: Society Mind
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/04/2007 23:24:38
I found this to be an exceedingly well-written, well-thought-out, and flavorful class. It's also excellently balanced, does something that no other base class can do, and is clearly laid-out. This is the closest thing I have seen to a perfect product in some time. Get this while it's still free if you like psionics at all.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Untapped Classes: Society Mind
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Book of Hallowed Might
Publisher: Malhavoc Press
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/24/2007 00:00:00
I've had this product for a while, but didn't truly appreciate it until I picked up Ptolus recently. That's when the beauty of it started to shine through. Monte Cook wrote this after he wrote the BoVD for WotC, and usd it to "cleanse his palette" a bit. This is a flavorful, useful, and interesting work, particularly if one is planning on using it with Ptolus. There's not a huge amount of material here, but everything is top notch.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Hallowed Might
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Year of the Zombie
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/29/2005 00:00:00
There are some good products on RPGNow. There atre a lot of good companies out there that do excellent work. And then, every once in a while, something utterly scale-breaking gets introduced. Year of the zombie is such a product. I don't know what I can say that won't be redundant with the huge number of other positive reviews that this has gotten, so I'm just going to leave it at this:

If you are playing or running a zombie game, a post-apocalyptic game, or something that even slightly resembles one of those, buy this. Now. The advice and rules material herein are outstanding, and I don't think I have EVER seen such nicely-implemented rules for the myraid of ways people go slightly nuts when subjected to severe psychological trauma as the ones in the back of this book. The "flavor text", often used by other products as a way of filling space, contributes much dramatic weight to the product and provides concrete examples of how various rules and ideas play out in an actual game session.


LIKED: The staggering number of extras to come with this product. The core book is in full-color, print-friendly, and HTML formats, there is a mini-adventure with grayscale and full-color maps, a collection of all the flavor text in two different versions for easier reading (and believe me, you'll want to!) and a nice little program that gives you a browser-based menu to access it all from. There is a LOT of value in here for twelve bucks.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Year of the Zombie
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Hold at all Costs: Zero
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/29/2005 00:00:00
A very good, if VERY difficult adventure for a bunch of elite-soldier/operative PCs. If a GM has a bunch of mix/maxed military types that have been in sore need of a real challenge, this is the adventure to put them through to test their abilities! The base mission itself is pretty intense without throwing zombies into the picture, and once you add the rising, it gets downright unnerving.


LIKED: As is typical for a UKG publishing product, layout & design are of good quality and the PDF comes with full-color maps for those who use them.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hold at all Costs: Zero
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Publisher Reply:
thanks for the comments Peter, you may enjoy taking part in the YOtZ forums try http://www.yearofthezombie.co.uk, its always good to max your players out occasionally, it gets them on edge.
Intermediary Classes
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/29/2005 00:00:00
An innovative approach to entering about half of the advanced classes in the SRD. Instead of taking 3 levels of the appropriate base class(es), you take 3 levels of an intermediary class keyed to the flavor and style of the advanced class, giving up 3 (or 5) levels of potential multiclass in return for a much more unified character concept. For instance, if you're looking to go into the soldier class, instead of taking 3 levels of strong hero, you can take 3 levels of boot (professional western-type soldier training), irregular (terrorist), or 5 levels of junior officer (western style commissioned officer school). The soldier is, thus far, the only advanced class to have multiple intermediary classes to go with it, but there's an intermediary class presented for the Investigator, Bodyguard, Field Medic, Field Scientist, Martial Artist, and Negotiator classes as well. That this leaves the Gunslinger, Infiltrator, Daredevil, Techie, and Personality classes open for a sequel is not lost on me, and I hope that sequel follows this in the near future. I'd also like to see one for the FX classes.


LIKED: The preservation of the flavor of a concept down to the initial level of play is a pretty cool idea.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Intermediary Classes
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Future Player's Companion: Tomorrows' Evolution
Publisher: The Game Mechanics
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2005 00:00:00
The third and final release in teh Future Player's companion series build nicely on its predecessors and introduces some great new material as well. Details follow.

The book kicks off with a standard introduction, discussing the general use and design philosophy of the book, then dives straight into the crunch of chapter 1, which collects 6 new advanced classes and 3 new prestige classes.

The chapter leads off with the corporate agent, a sort of sanctioned corporate PR man and high-powered negotiator. Those wishing to make more lethal and sinister corporate types would do well to stir in levels of enforcer, tracer, or infiltrator with this class.

The cyborg adept is a sort of hyper-adapted cyborg, intimately familiar and comfortable with his implants. The class manages to be unique despite something like 8 other cyborg classes out there from WotC (Bioic Agent, Cyberwarrior, Implant Hack, Cyber Raver) and Ronin Arts (Cybersoldier, Assault Borg, Psionic Cybersoldier, CyberOp) alone, and doesn't render any of them obsolete in the process.

The evolved mutant is one of the more interesting classes in the book, allowing ample implementation of the new mutations in Tomorrow's hero. With constantly developing and changing mutant abilities, the player of this will never get bored nor will they ever feel useless. This also allows some of the pricier mutations like Wormhole Jumper to actually see the light of day on something other than NPCs.

The geneshifter makes use of the various short-term genetic templates in d20 future and this book, and does so in a really neat way that allows for a sort of hyper-adaptable jack-of-all-trades sort of character. This is very much what you'd picture a sci-fi James Bond being like.

The pharmer focuses on chemical (drug) augmentation, and gets more benefits for fewer side effects than other characters who use drugs. Those wishing to make characters resembling a certain well-known chemical warrior archetype from another famous RPG would do well to mix this with a few levels of strong hero, fast hero, and enforcer. The result would be just about right.

The robot avatar makes robot heroes and villains much more versatile than they'd otherwise be, allowing a robot character to transfer their consciousness around from body-to-body and even to dominate other robots. This is a perfect class for a malevolent AI or a robotic puppetmaster.

The robot hunter's class name says it all really. Whether you want to destroy them or just disable and fix them, if you intend to be fighting a lot of robots, this is a must-have class. Great for making resistance fighters against Terminator-style killer AIs and the like.

The shockmonk is a cool psionic luddite-type with some impressive technology-disrupting abilities. By the last level of this 5-level prestige class, the character who takes it may well be more dangerous to technologically-dependent foes than an EMP device.

The tech knight is a fun and interesting mix of gadgetteer, knight-errant, and robot-rights activist, and allows for some upgraded use of the robot familiar rules from Tomorrow's Hero.



Chapter two focuses on cybernetics, adding more gadgets, new upgrades, and some other variant rules to the system. Unfortunately, given the recent proliferation of d20-future related cybernetics material some of this is already redundant, but most of it is not, and what is unique is flavorful and interesting. Also in this chapter are a selection of primitive cybernetics, which will be useful in games that are influenced by video games like Metal Gear or Splinter Cell, and a cyborg template for those human-brain-in-a-robot-body types of characters.



Chapter three covers equipment, adding archetypal weapons like the antimatter cannon, sonic disruptor, and wrist-blade launcher to the available arsenal of Future heroes. This chapter also includes some nifty weapon gadgets including the dual-targetting and overheat gadgets, which will be instantly recognizable to first-person shooter fans. As with other releases in this line, many of the gadgets actually make the device LESS effective in some way, and correspondingly reduce its cost. This allows for the design of shoddy devices like those used by terrorists, third-world guerillas, criminals, and backworlds colonists who have to make due.


Chapter four is probably the most ambitious of the chapter in the book, covering futuristic drugs of all types in a staggering, but still manageable, level of detail. If you want to use drugs in your game, this will be an absolute godsend. If you don't want to use drugs in your game, either don't read this chapter, or be ready to change your mind!

As I have come to expect from the Game Mechanics, this book is a superb value for the money, just make sure you've got the previous two volumes, or much of this won't be much use to you. It builds heavily on the excellent foundation set by Tomorrow's Foundation and Tomorrow's Hero, and references back to both extensively.




LIKED: As always with Game Mechanics' products, layout & design are excellent. The material is well-designed and professional, and the writing is readable and flows nicely.

DISLIKED: Some unanswered questions raised by two of the prestige classes: How, exactly does the Tech Knight's sword work, and why does the shockmonk have a nonstandard BAB?

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future Player's Companion: Tomorrows' Evolution
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Year of the Zombie - Fleshmongers
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2005 00:00:00
This is another one of those staggeringly high-quality products that leaps out and surprises you with its quality. The production values are very high, comparable to some of the better print companies outthere (though the art, while solid and of good quality, is a little less professional; it's almost all done in pencil). The book is bookmarked nicely and contains far more material than you'd expect from something of its price point. Inside, you'll find a detailed, methodical breakdown of slavers, from who they are to what they do and how they do it (and what equipment they use) they are detailed to an extent that is, at times, sickening. The book is also peppered with some well-written, though brutal vignettes form a nice framework to hang the rest of the story around. The book deals with slavers in a world overrun by zombies, but the zombie part isn't all that important. These concepts could be introduced into almost any post-apocalyptic game with no modification at all. Part of this is because it's mostly essays on various things; the actual rules text is limited to some gear lists, a new occupation, and a collection of NPC stat blocks. That shouldn't deter you, however, even if you do buy primarily for rules. Trust me, if you're using slavers, there's enough in here to warrant getting this.

This was my first purchase from this product line. It will most certainly not be the last.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Year of the Zombie - Fleshmongers
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the kind review Peter, this was a difficult book for Tim to write, as those sickening details effected him greatly when researching modern day slavers, and I know he will appreciate the good review. The art is deliberately pencil based, as the Year of the Zombie line is presented as a 'diary' and therefore almost all the look and feel of the books is designed to reflect on that premise. The upcoming new series for YotZ, Dead Future has a different premise and art. John Milner UKG Publishing.
Weapons of Power Armor Destruction 4
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2005 00:00:00
Another group of cool powered armor options. One my personal favorites: the skin suit, which offers no strength bonus, but is great for covert missions. There's a lot of other "extreme tech" PL 8 stuff in here as well, which may limit it to "plot device" usage in a lot of games.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Weapons of Power Armor Destruction 4
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Weapons of Power Armor Destruction 3
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2005 00:00:00
More useful goodies for the LPJ's excellent power armor rules. A nice "workhorse" title that adds in some more nifty tricks & gizmos for powered-armor designers. If you've got the previous volumes, by all means, pick this up.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Weapons of Power Armor Destruction 3
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Modern Advances: Masked Avenger
Publisher: IDA
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2005 00:00:00
More than just another advanced class, this PDF includes new feats, new talent trees, new occupations, and a surprisingly versatile advanced class. Definitely not just for superhero games, this product should be useful in any number of modern settings. In particular, it would make a rather unnerving hidden serial killer...


LIKED: Good value for the money; lots of extra goodies thrown in.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Advances: Masked Avenger
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Big Bang Ricochet 033: USMC Shadow RST-V
Publisher: Alternate Realities Publications
by Peter M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/02/2005 00:00:00
A nice treatment of one of the more jaw-dropping military vehicles out there. The video the link at the end leads to has to be seen to be believed; this thing is an amazing piece of technology.

The book does a nice job of covering all of the (impressive) capabilities of this piece of cutting edge military vehicular tech. The PDF is nicely laid-out and includes stats for common mounted weapons, record sheets, and the like. An excellent purchase for the price.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Big Bang Ricochet 033: USMC Shadow RST-V
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