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A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2006 00:00:00

A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls is a d20 supplement from Silverthorne Games. The zipped file is 5.76 megabytes in size, and contains three PDFs. The first two are the book itself, and a printer-friendly version thereof. The third file is a short (four-page long) PDF of other products from Silverthorne Games.

The file itself is fifty-one pages long, including a page for the cover, one for the credits/legal, and one for the OGL itself. The printer-friendly version has the same number of pages, having simply removed the colors (the cover has been rendered in grayscale). Both files have bookmarks. Interestingly, beyond the cover, there?s very little interior artwork. The only real art in the book is that the three different card types each have a different symbol on them.

A Turn of Events has a large number of cards, each with different effects, which players and the GM can use during their game. The three card types are boons, critical hits/fumbles, and curses, all of which have some sort of mechanical effect. Each type of card has an introductory section laying down the basics of how to use them. The boon cards, for example, talk about when to award them to players, how many they can use in a round, etc. The critical cards all have two listings on them, one for a critical hit, and the other for a fumble. Each section ends with a few bank cards of each type so that GMs can write their own.

The majority of the love here is pretty clearly given to the boon cards, which take up just over half of the available cards in the book. They?re also the only cards to have rather cool quotes from Shakespeare (or other sources) on them that fit the theme of the card. That said, all of the cards cover a wide range of what they?ll allow for, particularly if you use the option that the curse cards can?t be gotten rid of with a simple remove curse spell.

All in all, A Turn of Events gives a nice new option for GMs looking to add a bit of flair to their game. Using these cards as suggested rewards for good role-playing (and/or punishments for poor playing) can help to spice up a campaign, and give the players a nudge when they need one most. Being as simple as it is elegant, your game will doubtlessly benefit from having A Turn of Events. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The idea of having cards to lay out when needed, or warranted, is both innovative and simple. The quotes on the boon cards are also a nice touch.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Players and GMs who want to use more critical and/or curse cards will find that the majority of the cards in here are boons.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
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Template Troves, Volume I: Serpents, Spiders & Godlings
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/19/2006 00:00:00

Template Troves I: Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings is a monster book from Silverthorne Games. In keeping with this company?s claim to fame, this monster book consists of templates (along with creatures they have been applied to). The zipped file is 3.76 megabytes in size, containing a single PDF, which weighs in at 4.27 meg.

The book itself is forty-two pages long, including a page each for the front and back covers, a page for the credits, a page for the table of contents, a page for the OGL and legal information, and a page of ads. It has bookmarks to not only each template, but also to the scattering of new materials, as well as specific creatures, also found therein.

The book?s covers are done in full-color, but other than that the product is entirely in black-and-white with grayscale. The pages have borders on alternating sides. Most, but not all, of the new templates given have a picture of what a creature with that template would look like. There is no printer-friendly version.

The book opens with an introduction describing how to use the twenty templates that it provides. In addition to the template itself, each has an introduction of a paragraph or two explaining where such creatures come from, or how they would be created. It also briefly discusses appearance changes to the base creature once the template has been applied. In addition, each template has an example creature.

Most of the score of templates in the book fall under its title theme; a few, however, such as the devourer survivor or the twilight haggling, do not. Interestingly, most of the ?godling? templates are representative of creatures that are descended from one of the legendary beasts from Norse mythology, such as Fenris or Sleipnir. None of the templates are very powerful, though, being at most Challenge Rating +2 (one, the Skoth, can be +4, but that?s rare). Additionally, a few extras are thrown in, such as a single brand-new (non-template) monster, a few feats, or a trio of new spells, among others, all of which are presented to round out existing entries.

Altogether, Template Troves I: Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings does a good job in presenting templates that alter the flavor of the monsters they?re applied to. The only real flaw with the book is that it doesn?t seem to go far enough with its inspirations. Many of the templates here represent crossbreeds, or otherwise creatures with the blood of another ?standard? monster in them, which seems somewhat lackluster. Luckily, this only makes up about half of the templates presented here, with the other half being colorful enough to more than make up for the cut-and-dried nature of their fellows. GM?s looking for new ways to spice up existing monsters would be well served to make them into Serpents, Spiders, & Godlings. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Additional bonus material, such as the oxeph (a new monster) helped to round out the material quite nicely. Likewise, many of the new templates here (such as the oxeph host) were exceptionally colorful.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some of the templates seemed rather dry in their nature, such as a template that can be placed on spiders representing an aranea ancestor, or one for snakes that's indicative of a couatl ancestor. Likewise, the product had no printer-friendly version.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Template Troves, Volume I: Serpents, Spiders & Godlings
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Book of Templates
by Erica B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2006 00:00:00

I found this book to be incredibly useful. I enjoyed the additional flavor options it provided me with. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The format was useful, and I like the inclusion of samples with each template.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates
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A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2006 00:00:00

A Turn of Events: Actions Cards for Adventurous Souls is a 51 page pdf product for the d20 system. The pdf provides a number of printable cards that aim to add a fun extra dimension to your gaming session and increase roleplaying opportunities. The cards within the pdf can be used by DMs to increase the elements of chance, be it fortune or misfortune within a gaming session. Players and DMs are given or draw these cards during the session, which allows for a large number of different results and outcomes, both positive and negative.

The product includes a printer friendly and screen version of the pdf, along with an advertisement pdf for some of Silverthorne Games' other products. The main pdf is a fully-bookmarked pdf that contains mostly printable cards and the rules for using these cards within a game. Editing and layout is good, while the cards provide a simple and easy to read layout for use in gameplay. Mechanics on the cards is good as well, and generally these cards, when used within the framework of the suggested rules, should make for fun gameplay. Blank cards are included for those DMs that wish to make their own cards.

The concept of expanding on gameplay by allowing for extraordinary events is not a new one - hero points or action points have been around for some time, and this product is in essence no different from those systems, although vastly expanded on what can be done or not done. Three types of cards are included within the pdf - Boon cards, that allow characters to perform extraordinary actions, Critical Hit/Fumble cards for when a natural 20 or 1 is rolled, and Curse cards, for those times when the DM just needs to punish a player. Each set of cards comes with its own rules for when or when not to use these cards. By a rough count, more than 100 boon cards, more than 25 critical hit/fumble cards, and more than 25 curse cards are included in this pdf, allowing for ample variety in your gaming sessions.

The Boon cards allow both players and DMs to draw cards that allow them an element of fortune within a game. Examples include teamwork where your whole party cannot be flanked for a limited period of time, automatically confirming critical hits, bonuses to attack, damage or skill checks, and numerous other cards. The cards provide clear and concise rules for using them, and succeed readily at creating an atmosphere where these cards can make for a more heroic or action packed game.

The Critical hit/Fumble cards fulfil a dual purpose, depending on whether a natural 20 or natural 1 is rolled on the die. Each card comes with both a critical hit and fumble action, and allow players to do something beyond the extra damage on a critical hit, or impose some sort of penalty or effect on a fumble. Examples include blinding an opponent, scoring a critical hit for maximum damage, fumbling to knock yourself on the head and suffer penalties to mental statistics and fumbling to twist your ankle. Again these generally add a fun element to the game, and can be easily used with added enjoyment for those that are interested in a more extraordinary game.

The Curse cards are cards that are intended as punishments and can be used by DMs in instances where players violate their alignment, offend deities and the like. The examples of these are quite severe in most cases, ranging from taking ability damage each day while under the influence of the curse, to becoming diseased, to having opponents always inflict double damage with a particular weapon type. While under certain circumstances I can see the use for these cards, the suggestion is also made that they can be used to 'bring the player and his PC into line'. This doesn't seem to be an appropriate way to deal with players and characters that are not 'behaving' themselves, and seems to be something more suited to DM/player discussion. While some of these Curse cards can be used as opposites for Boon cards, I would not be inclined to use them under many of the circumstances written in the pdf.

A Turn of Events is a expansive system for allowing elements of chance to affect the fortune or misfortune of players. It does a good job of providing plenty of variety in the gaming session, offering lots of opportunities to expand the horizons of the characters and their interaction with the world around them. The pdf succeeds well at its stated aim, supersedes in some way the functionality of similar systems such as action points, although the Curse cards have suggested methods of use that are dubious. Overall, a very good pdf with some interesting options and variety.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The variety of options presented by the cards provides for exciting gameplay and a fun game. Card mechanics is solid, and the utility of this product is high for any d20 game.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some of the rules and concepts behind the Curse cards were not the best and I would not be inclined to use them as such.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
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A Turn of Events: Action Cards for Adventurous Souls
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2006 00:00:00

For most of the book, Turn of Events is a pretty useful supplement of event cards that changes or enhances the outcome of events in an RPG game. Unfortunately, the supplement stumbles towards its end by providing useless curse cards that seriously stretch the edges of DM fiat and insititutes a horrible experience for any player (notice I said player not character).

Turn of Events, by Silverthrone Games, is a 51 page PDF that contains three types of card that change the events of an action in your D20 RPG game. Thereare 101 Boon cards, which change the course of a particular action; 26 Critical & Fumble cards, which really change the dynamic of rolling a 20 or 1 and 27 Curse cards, which punishes the player for in or out of game actions.

The Boon cards are okay but fill slightly underpowered for their use. They certainly are not strong enough to replace the flexiability of previous incarnations of action cards. Most action cards allow you to reroll dice, add to rolls and come back to life without restrictions on usage. These cards possess such pluses but on separate cards. Meaning that one player may receive a card that gives him a free reroll and another may receive a card that gives him a +2 to spot. I managed to fix this glitch in my system by allowing players to receive twice as many boon cards as they normally would have received action cards. They can either use the cards ability or spend 3 to do what a normal action card can do. The critical/fumble cards are the most enjoyable, allowing Dungon Masters to sidestep spending time on charts and just let players pick a critical or fumble card when they roll a 1 or 20. In some instances, this may over power the ?roll of the 20?. In such cases, I allow a player to take his normal bonuses from a 20 or pick a card. This proves really useful as no longer will the 20 roll on your climb check prove useless.

Out of the three, the curse cards are what really bring the PDFs down. It is not the cards themselves. But the cards are used to punish player whom screw up the game. This is really bad DMing. If you are having a problem with a player, you should probably talk to that player, not punish his character with cards because that is not going to solve the problem. In this case it wastes time as the other pcs now have to journey with this character to remove the curse if he does not have the money or magic items to donate. The cards themselves are quite spiteful and would drive any player from a game. If your goal is avoiding adult communication and settling on childish spite, then these cards would get a lot of use, else their quite terrible to include in a supplement.

For the Player

Players will enjoy the variety and randomness the boon and critical /fumble.

For the Dungeon Master

Dungeon Masters will enjoy the look and professionalism of the cards and the dynamics they can add to a game.

The Iron Word

Dungeon masters will get a lot of usage out of the Critical/Fumble and Boon cards, but should stay away from the Curse cards for Player punishment. That said, there are some creative uses for the curse cards that should happen ?in game?. I myself plan on using the curse cards as punishment for ?overusage? of magic in my low magic campaign.
<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: - All of the cards are quite creative

  • The critical/fumble cards really do a good job of making that critical mean something without over or under powering. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: - Bad advice telling DMs whom may not know better to punish players with in game hazards
  • The boon cards are a bit underpowered and can't replace action cards without a tweak<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Summoner's Spells
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2006 00:00:00

Kressmer?s Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Summoner?s Spells is the first in the Kressmer?s Bizarre Grimoire series, from Silverthorne Games. Each book in the series is a short free product detailing seven new spells. The zipped file is 0.8 megabytes in size, and contains two PDF: the main file, which is just over 600 kb, and a 300 kb file consisting of two pages of advertisements for other Silverthorne Games products.

The main PDF is three pages long. The first page is the cover, with the title and a picture of a gnome mage (most likely Kressmer himself). Most, though not all, of the last page is taken up by the OGL and legal information. No table of contents or bookmarks are necessary, or given, in the product. Likewise, a printer-friendly version would have been superfluous also.

Each of the seven spells given here is designed to summon a specific kind of item (save for the spell titled Summon Random Item). Likewise, each spell (save for one) is a 0-level spell. This showcases the major weakness of the product; that these spells are largely useless to most PCs. Even NPCs would be less than likely to use a spell to summon a key, for example, or one that?d summon a bag. Ironically, the most useful idea for a summons, a spell to call some sort of weapon to the caster?s hand, isn?t given here.

This is the first part of the Kressmer?s Bizarre Grimoire series, and it shows. While the other parts of this series do an admirable job presenting an eclectic but useful selection of spells, this one stumbles a bit. The summoning spells presented here aren?t bad, but they?re not anything most characters will feel a particular need to acquire, either. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This book is the first in a series of useful and entertaining free products.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The spells presented here are amusing, but largely without practical use. Spells that summon a character's gear, such as weapons or armor, would have made this product much more valuable.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Kressmer's Bizarre Grimoire: Seven Summoner's Spells
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Book of Templates: Basics
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/19/2006 00:00:00

Book of Templates: Basics is a 45 page pdf product that presents a collection in one compendium of all the templates from the d20 SRD and d20 Modern SRD, as well as one or two new ones. Silverthorne Games are a known pdf publishing company in the area of templates, particularly in the light of their Book of Templates Deluxe and the Template Troves series. While this product doesn't add much that is new to the arena, it provides a handy compendium of all the standard templates found in many games.

Book of Templates: Basics comes as a single pdf file, complete with bookmarks and a table of contents. There is no art within the pages of this pdf, and even the advertised cover (or what is assumed to be the cover) is missing from the pdf. Between the lack of art and the minimal and simple bordering and layout, this pdf will be fairly easy to print out for those that wish to. Layout and editing is generally good, although there were a few disappointing aspects to the latter. For one, the introduction to the pdf promises a template format that will contain details on the appearance changes, origins and rationale that a template may entail, something that is nowhere to be found in the pages of the pdf. There are a few other additional editing errors, such as missing page headers or minor typos. Most of the text is derived from the SRD, meaning that it should be familiar to most frequent users of templates.

Book of Templates: Basics is all about templates, and in particular the templates taken from the SRD and Modern SRD. This includes fantasy, epic, modern, and future templates all in one handy reference. The inclusion of all these templates make for a useful pdf, including all the templates and template details one might want to use from these sources. The Dire Creature template from Necromancer Games' Tome of Horrors is also included as an additional staple template, and an Awakened template is provided as per the druid spell awaken. Templates are organised by type, dividing the pdf into fantasy and modern templates for reference. Within each section templates are presented alphabetically, meaning that epic templates are mixed in with normal fantasy templates, and future templates mixed with modern ones. This can make it difficult of those not familiar with a template to adjudicate its use within a particular genre.

The templates are provided one after the other within the pdf, and templates do not start on a new page. Each template is complete, so, for example, the lycanthrope template would include all the details on contracting and curing lycanthropy. A number of undead templates are noted as version I and II as they apply to fantasy and modern games. Towards the end of the pdf are a number of useful tables that sort the templates alphabetically, by CR adjustment, by level adjustment and by genre. It would've been useful to see more of this information in the actual pdf itself next to, for example, the template title.

Overall this is a useful collection of template from all the SRD sources. Despite there not being a lot new about this pdf, most gamers will find all the templates they use at their fingertips in one handy reference file. The pdf is easy to navigate, and the templates are presented in their familiar SRD format.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Book of Templates: Basics provides a handy collection of templates from the various SRD sources in one reference file. Combined with some of Silverthorne Games' other template products, this will allow the user a vast quantity of different monsters to use through templates. The combination of different genre is a single file adds utility to the product.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: A number of editing errors crept through in the product, and some details alluded to, such as appearance changes, are completely missing from the pdf. Some of the information in the tables at the end of the pdf would've been useful to see next to the template title as well.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates: Basics
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Tainted Troves: A Collection of Cursed Items
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2006 00:00:00

Tainted Troves: A Collection of Cursed Items is a collection of cursed magic items (and related materials) by Silverthorne Games. The zipped file is a smidgen under 1.5 megabytes, containing a single PDF file that is just over 1.8 meg. The PDF itself has bookmarks and a non-hyperlinked table of contents. It?s 43 pages long, with a page for the cover, a page for the credits and legal information, a page for the table of contents, and page for the OGL, and two pages of ads.

The book?s only color artwork is the cover; all of the interior art is black-and-white. While not excessive, there is a fair amount of art in the book. Given that it has grey borders on alternating sides of the pages, and grey headers at the top of each page saying what section of the book you?re in, the lack of a printer-friendly version may be of some concern.

The book opens with an introduction that does an excellent job of placing the rest of the book in context. After talking about cursed items in the campaign, it gives four possible origins for cursed items. It then talks about if a curse is different from broken functionality, and then gives a scale for measuring the power of curses (nuisance, hindering, or lethal). The format of the cursed items is then given. After their name, each cursed item is ranked in terms of the aforementioned scale, a physical description, what non-cursed magic item they detect as, their magic aura (strangely, they use a breakdown of trace/faint/moderate/strong/powerful instead of the more familiar faint/moderate/strong/overwhelming from the DMG), the effects of the curse, and how to nullify the curse. This last section is given a bit more exposition, as items vary in how easily the curse can be removed, if it can be removed while still retaining the beneficial enchantments, etc.

The lion?s share of the book is then covered in the next nine sections, each one paralleling a category of magic items from the DMG (armor and shields, potions, rings, rods, scrolls, staves, wands, weapons, and wondrous items). With the odd exception of the last two sections, each one opens with a brief paragraph recapping the basics of each type of item, such as what kind of action it takes to activate them, as well as their AC, hardness, hp, etc.

Seven appendices then follow (though the seventh one is the OGL, so it won?t be discussed here). The first one takes all of the cursed items from the SRD and organizes them into the format used in this book.

The second appendix presents two cursed minor artifacts, two cursed major artifacts, and three cursed locations. These aren?t presented in any sort of format, and even the minor artifacts lack information on their magic aura or caster level, which they?d normally have in the DMG. That aside, these are still very evocative descriptions.

Appendix three is a selection of cursed qualities. These present curses in the same manner as magic qualities for armor and shields. The difference here being that almost none of these have price listings, apparently signifying that it doesn?t add to a weapon?s cost to add a curse.

Appendix four deals with creating cursed items. It goes over different ways in which items can be cursed, and provides a series of tables which can be used to determine the exact nature of the curse (e.g. drawback, extra requirement, etc.) and what item it?s placed on.

The fifth appendix gives a new prestige class, the Malign Artificer. This character is someone who deliberately makes cursed items, due to having once been victimized by such an item.

Appendix six gives tables for placing cursed items. Unlike the tables in appendix four, these tables are each for different categories of magic items, with possible selections being for finished cursed items found in this book. These are the tables to use when you want to pick out a finished cursed item to place in a treasure hoard.

While this book had a few flaws in how a few parts of it were presented, this product is altogether an extremely solid one. The dozens of new curses, for every type of magic item, make it extremely valuable to a GM who is tired of using the same old cursed items over and over on his players (and of having them just use a remove curse spell). While it may be a book of cursed items, Tainted Troves is itself a real treasure. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Beyond the plethora of new and innovative curses, I enjoyed how it made many of them more difficult to defeat. Likewise, the tables for cursed item creation and placement are a boon to any GM. Also, the Malign Artificer prestige class is a truly insidious touch.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The lack of a printer-friendly version is a problem, albeit a rather small one. It strange why they used a different system for the listed magic auras, or how the minor artifacts didn't have the standard magic item information. However, all of these are very minor problems, and it's easy to overlook them altogether, as they have virtually no impact on the book's usefulness.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tainted Troves: A Collection of Cursed Items
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Minor Magicks
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2006 00:00:00

Minor Magicks is a supplement of spells and magic items from Silverthorne Games. The zipped file is just barely over 1 megabyte, and contains a single PDF file almost 1.4 megabytes in size. The file has a non-hyperlinked table of contents, as well as full bookmarks which link to every spell and item.

The product is thirty-four pages long, with one page for the cover, one page for credits/legal information, one for the table of contents, one for the OGL, and two pages of advertising. The cover is the only instance of full-color art in the book. There are a few pieces of black-and-white artwork scattered throughout the book, roughly half-a-dozen or so. There are grey borders on the sides of facing pages as well, but altogether, the lack of a printer-friendly version doesn?t impact this book much.

A brief introduction discusses what this book is all about. While magic can be a great thing on the battlefield, the existing rules largely ignore smaller uses of spellcasting. Where are the spells to clear up acne, to smell fresh and clean, or to resize clothes that don?t fit? This book is the answer, containing dozens of new spells and magic items, all low-level (none of the spells are higher than 3rd level) and designed for the non-combatant.

A grand total of eighty-four new spells are presented here, for every spellcasting class in the PHB. Whether you need a Capture Image spell, which freezes a specific image in a metal frame, or a Dry spell to remove water from materials, this is where you?ll find the minor utility spells. If you need to heat up your dinner, use a Cook spell, not a Burning Hands.

The second section of the book presents exactly one hundred and one new magic items. Mostly (but not completely) based on the spells in the preceding section, these are magic items that are designed for general utility ? ?general? here means that the common people will find them a lot more useful than adventurers. Vordin?s Wondrous Window Frame, for example, can be set into any normal window, and from then on keeps out unpleasant noises, odors, and bugs. While treasure-hunters and righters-of-wrongs probably won?t be impressed, anyone normal person will probably find that a lot more useful than a Longsword +2.

The product closes out with an appendix that puts the new spells given here on spell lists for all of the PHB classes. This, however, tends to shed light on how there are no Adept spells here. That?s rather odd to consider, since you?d expect that the only spellcasting NPC class would be a natural for these down-to-earth spells. It?s the only blemish on an otherwise superb product.

Altogether, Minor Magicks does an excellent job of rounding out magic in a fantasy world. Normal people tend to want things that make their lives easier, and it?s obvious that?d go for magic as well. This product puts a human face on spellcasting, and does so masterfully. While the spells here may be minor, they add that touch which makes a good game world into a great one. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This product did a great job of inventing spells to take care of everyday things that people'd want in real life.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: My only minor complaints about this product are the lack of Adept spells, and the lack of a printer-friendly version. However, both of these are very minor issues that in no way detract from this book as a whole.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Minor Magicks
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Book of Templates: Basics
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/26/2006 00:00:00

Book of Templates: Basics is the latest in a series of sourcebooks about templates from Silverthorne Games. The zip file containing the book weighs in at 1.6 megabytes, with the single PDF file it contains being only marginally larger at 1.8. The book has a hyperlinked table of contents and bookmarks.

The book is 45 pages long, with one page for credits, one for table of contents, one for the OGL, and one with ads for other Silverthorne Games products. Oddly, although the storefront on RPGnow shows a front cover, no such cover is in the product itself; the book opens with the credits page. The book has no artwork per se. However, there are borders along opposite pages of a deep gray. Likewise, sidebars are in a verdant green, and tables use light shading.

The introduction opens by saying that this book was made for convenience more than anything else. It?s designed to give you all of the System Reference Document and Modern System Reference Document templates all in one place. A note here also mentions that sample creatures were not included, since these templates are so ubiquitous that sample creatures would be unnecessary. Curiously, the introduction says that each template entry should have an introduction to explain the rationale of the template, any notable appearance changes it causes, and notes on creating monsters with this template. However, none of this information actually appears in the templates in the book.

The first section of the book is ?Fantasy and Epic Templates.? Every template from the SRD is listed here. Additionally, a few others have been added. ?Awakened Creature? is a template to apply to animals or trees that have been subjected to an awaken spell (which is given in a sidebar). Likewise, the ?Dire Creature? template from the Tome of Horrors is here as well. Interestingly, the 3.0 ?Psionic Creature? template is given, 3.0 psionic rules and all, though the ?Phrenic Creature? (using 3.5 psionics rules) is given almost right next to it.

The second section, ?Modern and Future Templates,? has the templates from the MSRD. Note that this includes templates of creatures for whom the Modern d20 version is different from the Fantasy d20 version, such as skeletons, zombies, and lycanthropes.

The book closes out with an appendix full of indices. Here, the various templates are grouped alphabetically, by CR increase, by level adjustment, and by genre (fantasy, modern, epic, or future).

Altogether, the Book of Templates: Basics does exactly what it set out to do, no more and no less. It groups together all of the standard templates, including related information, into a single source. While there are a few errors in the product, these are more organizational than mechanical, and all of the templates are virtually flawless, and ready for immediate use. If you need a book that codifies the basics and standards of d20 templates, look no further. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: It was a nice touch that this book included related sidebars for templates that needed them. For example, the Worm That Walks template had a listing for the Gathering of Maggots epic spell. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It was odd that the introduction described a format that then wasn't used in the product. Likewise, the depiction of a cover which then didn't appear was a strange discrepancy as well. Also, the index of templates by genre lists the first column as being "level adjustment."<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates: Basics
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Book of Templates: Basics
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2006 00:00:00

You do not have to reinvent the wheel to appreciate the feel of a good car. Silverthrone Games understands this adage and has repackaged its original Book of Templates for the 3.5 market. Though the book still rides smoothly, there are some bumps in the form of lacking sample characters.

The new version, Book of Templates: Basics has 40 templates, which include published templates for fantasy, modern and future d20 games. Including the latter two genres expands the products usage.

For the DM:

If you are consistently wasting gaming time rifling through your piles of DM books in an attempt to find ?the? template for a monster or NPC, you will find the Book of Templates very helpful. Each template is presented in its original format. There is also additional information compiled within the Template description. For example, The lycanthrope description contains information on curing the disease and playing as Lycanthropes.

Not only are the templates well bookmarked, but individual components of the Templates are referenced as well. This makes for easy maneuvering when trying to decide between two templates. This is very helpful during game preparation when attempting to figure out if that hated NPC that the party thinks is dead should come back as either a half-fiend or replacement.

The book says at the beginning that it did not include examples, but this feels like more of an excuse than a reason. The writers pride themselves on how easy it is to have all of the material that a game master needs under one book, then tells the reader that it didn?t include sample characters because the PCs could go to book the template comes from. Sample characters come in handy for a DM to get a good image of how the template operates.

For the Player

Who says that templates are for Dungeon Masters. A number of the templates included in the document contain sections on playing that type of template in a campaign. I can not wait to play an Awakened ape in my buddies new Tarzan campaign.

The Iron Word

This is a helpful resource to have if you use templates a lot. Add the Book of Templates: Deluxe Edition 3.5 and you will be able to throw a variety of types of monsters and NPCs at your group on the fly.
<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: It's nice to have all these templates at hand.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Books like this are really benefited with the inclusion of sample characters. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Minor Magicks
by Geoffrey B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2006 00:00:00

Incredibly useful. I can't wait to put these spells into use. So many of them have effects that while menial will allow a lot of use while role-playing, and can be used in some interesting combat situations. There is also a huge number of spells and items. Great value for price.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: These spells are often usable for many purposes, useful for PC's and NPC's. I bought this thinking it would only be useful for the villagers and townspeople we ran into, but a few of these I can tell my players will use right away. Some of the spells have me thinking up new messes to get my players into. I was expecting a 3-star product but for me at least this is a 5.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: nothing.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Minor Magicks
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Races of Evernor (Part I)
by Scott S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2006 00:00:00

This 61 page PDF document is a sourcebook of the Realms of Evernor, which would seem to be a fairly standard fantasy realm. However, in reading through this first volume, I found that the writers have some fairly interesting and uncommon ideas for their world, when compared with other campaign worlds in publish.

The book starts off with a short, basic primer on the World of Evernor, which includes a treatise on her three deities, a very basic history describing the three Epochs of time, and short description of the world and its seven continents. I found the idea of having only three deities to be a rather refreshing one alongside other campaign worlds that can have dozens of deities to choose from. The history isn?t anything too special, but it whets the appetite for more detail, as does the geographical information. I haven?t seen any Campaign Sourcebook for this world, but I would be very interested in one.

The layout of the races is well presented and the races themselves are well thought out and balanced, with only 3 of the 12 having a level adjustment of +2 and one with an LA of +3. The writers include all the standard racial information, as the core rulebooks does, however they have added diet, role play tips, adventure seeds, and a ?Prime Example? (a typical member of the race detailed with stats, personality and history) to each entry, which I found to be welcome additions. Another detail that I really appreciated was the inclusion of a pronunciation, singular/adjectival form and plural form for each race?s name. The addition of entries given from the perspective of the gnomish bard, Frilf Ottenbaugh, add extra flavor for each race as well. New spells, weapons and feats are provided for some of the races, and all entries are included in tables at the back for height, weight and age.

I think I can say with some confidence that unless your tastes are very eclectic, there is going to be something you?ll like in this book. The races are varied enough that players will find at least one in the book that will appeal to them, if not more, and DMs may find that many or all of them have some place in their campaign world (if they don?t actually play in Evernor). I personally find the Celedhriel, a race of outsiders, to be very interesting, and would like to play one at some point.

The artwork is well done overall, although some of it didn?t appeal to me, personally. There?s nothing technically wrong with any of the artwork, however, I found some of it to be a bit flat, even though the artist seems capable of more. I think I understand the intent behind the layout of these particular drawings, however it did come off as a bit too two-dimensional.

Some problems I found: There are a few references in the racial histories and relations that mention races not included in this book. This ties the book to its successors, however it might have been better to slot these ?related? races all into the same work for continuity. The first example of this is references to the Hrulian-Tensu and Yaal-Tensu in the description of the Cabaran. Both of these races are in Races of Evernor, Part 2. There is an abbreviated entry about each of these in a list at the end of the book, but my preference is still to have them all together. Also, the term ?thossmurgs? is used several times, however I can find no other information on these creatures in any of the Evernor books. They would seem to be somehow connected to Thoss, the god of evil, however this is only conjecture from the tone of the references. Perhaps if there is a Campaign sourcebook lurking out there that I haven?t found, thossmurgs are detailed there, however I found the references here to be somewhat out of place.

Regardless of these rather minor problems, though, I?d say that if you?re in the market for some new races for your game, this would be a good addition to your collection.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: The grammatical and pronunciation guides included. The roleplay tips and adventure seeds. The Celedhriel.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: References to races not included in the book. Some of the artwork. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of Evernor (Part I)
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Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition 3.5
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2006 00:00:00

The Book of Templates Deluxe Edition 3.5 is from Silverthorne Games, being the latest (and most likely final) incarnation of the original Book of Templates. This book offers a wealth of new material, beyond a truckload of new monster templates, for your Fantasy d20 game.

The product contains two files. The first is the full-color version, weighing in at almost 7.5 megabytes. This version has borders along the pages, colored headers, and tables that are shaded. The printer-friendly version eliminates all this, and is just over 5.5 megs. Both versions contain a full-color cover and black and white interior artwork. Both have bookmarks and a hyperlinked table of contents, and a page of ads at the end, as well as the OGL.

The Book of Templates offers, as mentioned, far more than mere templates. The first chapter offers a wealth of advice regarding building monsters, outshining the Monster Manual by far in terms of summing up building monsters. It gives the layout of each template, reiterates the features of each monster type, covers things that alter the monsters stats (such as size), and goes over how to calculate CR and level adjustment. That?s a heck of a lot for just one chapter, and doesn?t even mention the sidebars.

Chapters two through thirteen are organized by type. This usually covers creature type, such as Aberrations, Outsiders, etc. A few chapters are more thematic though, such as Augmentation, a chapter which covers all sorts of templates that have no related theme beyond increasing the creature?s power. Most of the monsters have a piece of art depicting them, and all of the templates have an example creature that showcases what the template can do; in many cases (utilizing a tip given in chapter one) the monster is given a new name, with the understanding that all monsters of that kind with that template are part of a new species. Altogether, there are over sixty templates in the book, many also feature variants. Sidebars with additional information dot the chapters.

Appendix I offers additional new crunch. It has a few new skills (such as Craft (taxidermy)), new feats (such as Cross training, which lets you make two cross-class skills into class skills), and new spells. While there are only a handful of new skills and feats, the new spells number several dozen, and all relate to the enclosed templates thematically, if not directly.

Altogether, The Book of Templates Deluxe 3.5 offers a spectacular array of ways to vary your existing monsters, and expertly gives you the tools and advice for doing so. This book is nothing short of a toolkit that offers an endless variety of material for your game. There are few, if any, better products out there for giving familiar monsters a deadly new edge. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The format and layout was stellar. The size Tables went up to Titanic, which is the new name for Colossal+. The product presented a wealth of ideas as well as tools and advice for how to make those ideas possible.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: One minor point was how, on the size table, the AC/attack penalty for Titanic was -12 instead of -16; it ignored the cascading penalty from previous sizes. Also, a lot of chapter one reprinted material from the Monster Manual, such as size information, the qualities of various monster types, etc. Some may find that a waste of space.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Templates - Deluxe Edition 3.5
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The Book of Oafish Might
by Scott G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2006 00:00:00

There are basically two ways to write a humorous RPG sourcebook. One way is to write playable material that is potentially funny and let other gamers use it. In doing so, other gamers create their own humor. Rifter Issue #9 1/2 is an example of this type. The second way is to let the material be unplayable but funny to read as if it were a parody of an RPG sourcebook. An example of the second type would be the adventure Little Sheep on the Borderlands which appeared in the back of Dork Tower. I'm not certain type The Book of Oafish Might was trying to be...

Most of the materials here were mildly amuzing but ridiculous enough to be unplayable. One article, however, was very useful. Jan Willem's Beastiary (Quite Contrary) was excellent. The beasts featured, although listed with stats for D&D 3, are perfect for a game of Changeling. They would also fit great into some of the BESM settings and certain HackMaster campaigns. I intend to use the Orcish Rugby Player, Office Gnome, and Forum Troll. The Skeleton Clown is ready for use right now, and Cara Mitten's picture of this ghastly fool is great. I hope that Ms. Willem develops these ideas into a full product.

Also included is an excert from Roland Wick's novella. The work is entitled _King Alfred and the Knights of the Tetrahedron. I enjoyed this as a short story, but I think it would be too much of a good thing as a novella. This King Arthur spoof tries way too hard to be funny by reaching for every possible joke. Some sentences have three or four jokes in them. That's just too intense for my taste. Ms. Wick should have focused on the good jokes more and let the bad jokes go.

As free products go, the Book of Oafish Might is a definate keeper. I would have been willing to pay for just Beastiary article.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: It has an attractive cover page, although I'm not sure what is happening in it. Jan Willem's article is great, and it features a Troglodyte Rock Group! They're demi-human bards, but much more fun than the canon demi-human bards from AD&D kits. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Most of the material just wasn't funny and should have been left on the proverbial editting room floor.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Oafish Might
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