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Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2017 20:42:10

Great utility item. I would love to see more product like this. Its a great price and plays in the design space that the "big books" put out by the larger publishing houses aren't likely to flesh out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Through Their Own Eyes (5E)
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Forgotten Characters of the Realms
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2017 22:18:20

There is a lot of well thought out, well researched Forgotten Realms specific material in this product, by someone that has been working on Realms material for a long time. I completely understand why WOTC wants to stick to more "general" options that work in the Realms and beyond in their current products, but the material in this book does a really good job of being specific to the Realms while also adhereing to existing norms of 5th edition.

While the pricetag may seem a bit high, its a very long product being written by a professional that has worked on the Realms in the past, so in case you may not recognize the name, this product is really in the same realm (so to speak) as some of the Kobold Press offerings that have been written and sold through the guild.

The only real downsides I can come up with for this product are that if you aren't deeply into the Realms, some of these options may not appeal to you as much, although the author has provided a lot of context in the individual entries even for people not familiar with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th edition origins of the race and class options.

My personal preference is that new classes aren't quite as interesting, and duelists and scouts can be fairly easily approximated with fighers, rogues, and rangers, but there is a compelling argument made by the author, even if you aren't interested in the classes themselves.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forgotten Characters of the Realms
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Rockerboys & Vending Machines
Publisher: Encoded Designs
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/15/2017 19:21:25

On the surface, this is a lighthearded, rules light game for playing cyberpunk stories. If you have ever seen Lasers and Feelings, you've seen this system. It fits on two pages, so the rules are workable, but not robust. Despite this lack of rules depth, they work amazingly well to quickly adjudicate a storyline.

What makes this so awesome (beyond it being free), is the cyberpunk mission generator, which is actually kind of a neat resource for ANY cyberpunk game you might be running. Add to this the fact that the artwork is great, and it's an amazing product that is worth your time to download and read through.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rockerboys & Vending Machines
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DM's Kit: On the Trail of Tyranny
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/06/2016 13:13:48

I meandered a bit online recently about how modern adventure design should break down more exactly what characters need to know when, and present adventures more as a toolkit for the DM running the adventure rather than a lot of text that relates the story and throws in some stat blocks.

One of the biggest criticisms I have heard of the Tyranny of Dragons adventures is not that they are bad, but that there are some key bits of information about the overall plot and how things unfold that aren't obvious when the adventure is split into two volumes.

What do those two things have to do with one another? This product provides a toolkit for running the adventures, with some tips for what to do when, some head's up on what is really important in the adventures later on, and breaks things down a bit more for the DM running the adventure.

I realize that RPG companies can't spent too much time makng the super ultra deluxe version of an adventure, but having people willing to create toolkits such as this one really help to greatly increase the functionality of an adventure at the table.

The product itself has several suggestions for running encounters, some discussion of what NPCs are important and what NPCs might be made more important than they actually were in the adventure, handouts and tracking information for variable sub-plots in the adventures, and general advice on how to approach some of the encounters in the adventure.

Really looking forward to more of these. I hope to see DM's Kits for all of the major D&D 5th edition releases.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DM's Kit: On the Trail of Tyranny
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Tombs of the Desolation
Publisher: Schwalb Entertainment
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 15:08:25

Tombs of Desolation is very much like the Demon Lord's Companion on a slightly smaller scale. There are player options and GM tools, and they are modular and can be connected to what you already have in the core rules. However, unlike the Demon Lord's Companion, this also moves the setting into a new area that was only touched on a little in the setting material in the main book.

You can totally use these options with the base book, but they make the most sense when pairted with the new setting details in this book.

The setting is a very harsh, nasty, magically bad desert. You have two undead player races, and a race elementally attuned to the harsh, heated wasteland. In some ways, this takes the oppressive feeling of the core story and takes it up a notch. If the core setting is dark and oppressive, slowly sapping life and vitality from people, the Desolation burns all hope out of you while it drives you insane.

Really a nice addition both to the game's setting and mechanics.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tombs of the Desolation
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Demon Lord's Companion
Publisher: Schwalb Entertainment
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 15:00:12

The Demon Lord's Companion has more of what was good in the initial core rulebook.

There is another step you can add to your characters at character creation to give them more flavor from the start, which can be as much of a detriment as a benefit.

There are a couple more races that are good "general" additions to the player choices in the core rulebooks.

The new careers have some really interesting ways to do things that D&D and other games have attempted to do, and the minimalist way that the game handles those mechanics makes it work really well in the context of this game.

The new magical traditions are really evocative, and like the traditions and spells in the core book, they seem to snap into the core rules fairly easily without be automatically more awesome that what was presented.

And of course, more monsters!

While the name may make this seem like it is the "Dungeon Master's Guide" of the product line, and there are some "GM only" storytelling tools in this volume, it really is pretty much a companion to the main rulebook, more modular stuff that you can attach to the stuff you already got in the core rulebook.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Lord's Companion
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Shadow of the Demon Lord
Publisher: Schwalb Entertainment
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 14:51:19

I really, really enjoy this game.

The book is gorgeous. The art very much conveys the "dark fantasy" theme of the game.

For the huge size of this book, individual portions of the book aren't over-written. You get bite sized, evocative chunks to digest. Taken as a whole, there is a ton to take in, but it comes to you a bit at a time.

The best explanation I can come up with is that the game feels like a simplified version of what the child of D&D and Warhammer Fantasy 2nd edition would look like. There are modular career paths, health scores, d20 rolls with target numbers. But those target numbers and what modifies those things are very simple to keep track of.

Boons and banes are nice. You have your base roll, which has a target number of 10 or whatever your monster or NPC opponent sets for you, and they you can have a number of boons (+d6 added to your roll) or banes (-d6 you add to your roll). Boons and banes cover so many things simply, from disease to fatigue to being cursed.

One of the most negative things I can say about the game is an odd complaint. There is lots that general fantasy fans will get excited about. So it should have a pretty broad appeal for most fantasy gamers. Unfortunately, the dark fantasy theme "hides" for a chapter or so at a time, and them all of the sudden you have some art, a spell, or some text that is much closer to a horror theme then what you may have been expecting. This may be more or less problematic for you, depending on what you want from the game. You can have a pretty "standard" fantasy game from this, but you aren't going to avoid some vomit, spells that make you evacuate your bowels, or entrails here and there.

Because of the highly modular way that races, careers, and spells work, there are tons of ways to add content that broaden the content, rather than "more of that, but better!"

So if you at least kind of like a horror movie once in a while, and want a fantasy RPG that starts with your characters as kinda nobodies, but not quite as nobody as something like DCC, and allows them to build slowly into exactly what you want them to be, you may want to look into this game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow of the Demon Lord
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D&D 5e Monster Expansion
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2016 00:42:24

I can't claim to "eyeball" challenge ratings in 5th edition, so I can't speak to whether these are on target or not, but as far as the monsters themselves, they look solid and mechanically well put together.

There is a good range of "expanded" monsters, from humanoids to giantkin to undead, which gives you more of the range of "standard" to "higher end challenge" that the 3.5 Monster Manual provided.

My biggest interest in the product was to have some reference for more powerful versions of standard monsters for things like 3.5 adventures that often had monsters with templates or class levels to boost them, and I think this will give me a fairly good range of "upgraded" standard monsters to work with for those kinds of adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
D&D 5e Monster Expansion
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Classic Modules Today: B4 The Lost City
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2016 22:53:19

This is a great idea for a product, and as it turns out, it's a great product as well.

This isn't an attempt to reinvent the wheel. The assumption is that you will get or already have the original classic version of the adventure. What this book does is give you some ideas on what to play up and where, points you to where the monsters are in 5th edition, swapping out as needed, substitutes what magic items you might need for treasures, and converts the unique aspects of the adventure, such as singular monsters and NPCs.

These are broken out in several pages of descriptive text, and then summarized on a cheat sheet.

What impressed me, and what I wasn't expecting, was the nice, short section on converting the adventure to the Realms, complete with what fallen empire is appropriate and what deities should be swapped to customize the adventure.

I really look forward to more of these. I think this is a great product and a great idea.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Modules Today: B4 The Lost City
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Classic Modules Today: B4 The Lost Temple
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2016 22:07:35

This is a great idea for a product, and as it turns out, it's a great product as well.

This isn't an attempt to reinvent the wheel. The assumption is that you will get or already have the original classic version of the adventure. What this book does is give you some ideas on what to play up and where, points you to where the monsters are in 5th edition, swapping out as needed, substitutes what magic items you might need for treasures, and converts the unique aspects of the adventure, such as singular monsters and NPCs.

These are broken out in several pages of descriptive text, and then summarized on a cheat sheet.

What impressed me, and what I wasn't expecting, was the nice, short section on converting the adventure to the Realms, complete with what fallen empire is appropriate and what deities should be swapped to customize the adventure.

I really look forward to more of these. I think this is a great product and a great idea.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Classic Modules Today: B4 The Lost Temple
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Monster Codex: Underdark Enemies
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2016 14:39:55

This product is another example of what I really like about the DM Guild and what it can do. Having supplementary material to use in an existing campaign is a great way to extend the time you spend in that campaign and to customize a pre-released adventure to more closely resemble your taste.

So the product is good for having solid thematic enemies for an Out of the Abyss campaign, but more monsters in general aren't a bad thing either. These are all presented in a clear manner, and should be very usuable for any DM that wants to pop them into a campaign. Further, if you like drow or giants demons, these are great additions to those particular groups of monsters.

A lot of these creatures seem to take at least some inspiration from the 3rd edition mega-adventure City of the Spider Queen, but that's not a bad thing at all, and it makes sense when looking for thematic ties to a 5th edition Underdark adventure.

There is no art in this supplement, but its very clearly and attractively laid out, easy to read and use, in a format that should be familiar to anyone used to the 5th edition monster stat blocks. Defeinitely a recommended product, especially for GMs running Out of the Abyss.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Codex: Underdark Enemies
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The Five Temples of the Earthmother Part 1: Life and Moon
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2016 14:34:30

As a long time Realms fan, this is another one of those products that really shows what I hope the Dungeon Masters Guild can be used for.

The Moonshaes haven't gotten a lot of official love in a long time. This adventure uses what we know about the current state of the Moonshaes and has a suitable amount of fantasy Celtic feel to it, which is essentially the whole point of the Moonshaes.

While it's not an earthshatteringly new concept in adventures, it is very much what 5th edition had attempted to be thus far--a return to the solid feeling of D&D past, with a cleaned up presentation to make everything run more smoothly.

While I haven't run the adventure, from reading through it, it seems to be a good, solid, fun adventure that definitely feels like it belongs in the Moonshaes. If you remember the 3.5 days of Dungeon Magazine, I'd say that this feels more connected to the Moonshaes than most of the Forgotten Realms content that made it to the page in that magazine (barring adventures written by people like Eric Boyd, etc.)

My biggest complaint is that there is one encounter in the adventure that, if not handled well by the DM, could devolve into one of something similar to one of the less interesting skill challenges from 4th edition. That said, there is good context for the encounter, it just depends on how well the DM and the players get into describing the situation.

Looking forward to future installments of this series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Five Temples of the Earthmother Part 1: Life and Moon
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The High History of Impiltur
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/17/2016 19:30:04

This is everything I am hoping the DM Guild can be summed up on one document.

As a timeline with references, it's great, but the scattered vignettes illustrating various points in the timeline are short, focused, pure concentrated old school Realms. And by old school Realms, I mean, "this is a place I can picture as a real place."

It's crazy that this is free. I mean, I really would have loved to have given George my money for this.

Regardless, this is a great resource for a place that is often mentioned "in the sidelines" of Realmslore, but hasn't gotten much of it's own spotlight in the past.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The High History of Impiltur
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Calendar of Harptos
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/17/2016 16:30:46

A good, solid, useful utility if you are running a game in the Realms and want to track time properly. I really appreciate the effort that went into this.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Calendar of Harptos
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The Pathwarden: A Ranger Archetype by 5by3 Games
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Jared R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/17/2016 16:27:21

I really enjoy this archetype. I like that it uses new, but still simple, rules to expand what a ranger can do. I also really enjoy that what it does feels like something a ranger should be able to do. I can't speak to how well balanced it is compared to other archetypes or classes, because I haven't seen it in play. Reading the archetype, however, I'd love to play this kind of ranger. From a design standpoint, it gives me ideas of where to go when trying to come up with new things. Really like this.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Pathwarden: A Ranger Archetype by 5by3 Games
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