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Hill Cantons Compendium II
Publisher: Hydra Cooperative
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2015 17:28:03

First off, I find the Hill Cantons material to be brilliant and great, but I acknowledge that it drifts near the gonzo end of the OSR and may not be everyone's cup of tea. That said, I think this is a great product and well deserving of 5 stars if you like your gaming a bit wilder than standard Tolkein.

The cover is gorgeous, eye catching and flavorful. It sets a mood that the rest of the product follows up on.

The background material for the hill Cantons is Vancian, odd and evocative of a faerie-Arabesque-dark-fantasy world. Short and sweet!

The new character classes include some "out there" classes that may not work for everyone (like the War Bear and the Robo-Dwarf), but even they can be normalized with some creative re-skinning. The Montebank and White Wizard make a fine edition to any D&D world.

The character generation elaboration generates some great backgrounds, but also can greatly increase some character stats, so if that bothers you change it. Zero level characters is short but usable, as is the system for using stats for skill challenges.

Overall, for a buck or more you get dreams in a handful of dust.

Well worth the price of admission.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hill Cantons Compendium II
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Plague of Storms
Publisher: Certain Death
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/11/2015 11:20:53

Hands down, this is one of the best game pdfsI have read so far this year. I would give it six stars if I could.

The books contains a broad strokes description of a campaign area, with several dungeon areas, several adventurer-appropriate organizations, and a dozen or so NPCs with drives and motives to change the word, challenge the PCS, or cause enough problems to get their attention. The campaign world is not static... change is coming and unless the PCs get in front of it, they'll get swept away by it.

Though written for Dungeon World, I could easily see running this with D&D, Pathfinder or just about any other fantasy rpg system that isn't too outside the mainstream. And the campaign area is written in broad enough strokes that you could - with a bit of pushing and cutting - fit it in an existing campaign world so long as you have a long river valley and some nearby wilderness.

I found this pdf to be well written, easy to read, well illustrated. I enjoyed that the design is clean and easy, the illustrations added to the text instead of being overly indulgent, and there were no annoying style choices (gutter designs, page watermarking, border curliques) that distracted and wasted my ink.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a new fantasy campaign and anyone who is a fan of Dungeon World. I will keep an eye on this publisher for future material.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Plague of Storms
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Eagle Eyes • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/24/2015 14:05:31

As a lover of historical fiction, I think this is my favorite "World of adventure" for Fate so far.

Obviously, both the Roman setting and the noir genre are too big to tackle in this format, but this title gives you enough overview that you could fake your way through, and some guidance as to how to do more research. However, i was surprised that the section on Inspirational Materials did not actually mention any of the popular Roman detective series that exist in print - Lindsey Davis' Falso series, or Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder, or John Maddox Roberts SPQR series.

I especially like the advice on how to create conspiracies and mysteries, and how to handle things when your players solved things too fast.

Other things - liked the cover, interior art was fine, didn't notice any crazy grammer or spelling errors, game mechanics made sense, not crazy about renaming FAE approaches with Roman deity names but don't hate it....

In summation: Quick enjoyable read, a subject I like, a world I would love to play in and would consider to run as well. I would give 5 stars if it was a little longer, maybe included a map of the city and a list of Latin terms to throw around.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eagle Eyes • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Strange Stars
Publisher: Hydra Cooperative
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2015 16:24:06

I would rate this 4 1/2 stars if I could.

This is a great book, full of wonderful ideas, fantastic art, and enough campaign hooks to keep you playing for years.

But yeah, $9.99 for thirty pages made me hesitate. I understand the cost of art and production value and etc... But its the words that I truly care about and the words here are worth the price tag.

Strange Stars is one part old-fashioned Space Opera, and one part modern trans-humanistic cutting edge sci-fi, and has room enough to shift play style to either end of that continuum if you are unhappy with the mix.

I cannot wait to see more of the Strange Stars universe.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Stars
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Unholy Land
Publisher: Garske Games
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2015 15:40:12

Website ate my first review.. to summarize..Dragons, Undead armies, invading Fish Men...

Good product, borderline great... perhaps a bit blasphemous but not vulgar or gratuitous.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Unholy Land
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The Hill Cantons Cosmology
Publisher: Hydra Cooperative
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/11/2014 17:42:36

Now this I can give 5 stars. Short, but packed with original and interesting details of the gods and religions of the Hill Cantons world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Hill Cantons Cosmology
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Slumbering Ursine Dunes
Publisher: Hydra Cooperative
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/11/2014 17:37:50

Quirky and idiosyncratic, this sandbox-y setting reminds me a lot of the sword-and-sorcery fiction of the 60s and 70s, with a faint resemblance to Moorcook and Bakshi along the way. The area could be explored and rushed through is a few sessions, or an imaginative GM could spin things out much longer.

I liked everything that was here, but came away with a vague feeling like something was missing. The four factions that occupy the Dunes could all use some additional development, and some additional plot elements setting them in motion would really make this a 5 star product in my opinion.

I would easily rate this 4 1/2 stars if I could.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
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Aether Sea • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/10/2014 17:18:16

A really good campaign setting for Fate. Reminiscent of Spelljammer, it would also be easy to use ideas from Firefly, Babylon 5 or many of the Trek series to fuel a campaign.

With a few additions I would have given this five stars. A page or two more of NPC aether ship write ups, a bit more advice on the implicit technology of the setting (do adventurers carry swords and axes? Rapiers and wheel-locks? Blaster pistols?), some brief paragraphs on mysteries/adventure sites/dangers of the setting. Nothing major, nothing O can't create, but just a few more pages would have taken this to the next level for me.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Aether Sea • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Steel & Flame
Publisher: Brent P. Newhall's Musaeum
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2014 15:56:01

A combination of Barbarians of Lemuria (which I love) and Fate (also...love), Steel & Flame is is quick and simple with very light mechanical crunch and only a few hints of world detail fluff.

I would say it is perfect for an evening's pick up game, or a quick side story in a world that the play group (or at least the GM) is already familiar with. I'm not sure if it has enough "heft" to support a longer campaign, but the rules are concise enough that they can easily be built on.

I would have loved to see one more page of content - either a quick bestiary or even a "one page dungeon" style adventure.

Nonetheless, for the price I am well satisfied with the value received.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Steel & Flame
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Demi-Options: Halflings
Publisher: Occult Moon
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/12/2012 14:50:37

If you are playing a B/X style game and embrace race-as-class then this product will be of use to you, and serves as a first release of what I hope will be a number of follow ups.

In brief, this book gives you four new Halfling racial classes so that not every PC Halfling will be forced to play the same exact class. The new racial classes fill in social and adventuring roles, giving halflings access to clerical and arcane magic, as well as some effective guerrilla fighters.

There are a few typo errors in this product, the layout is work-man-like, and the art is primitive and a bit cartoony, but honestly I like it just fine.

I think this is a really good value for the price, and would rate it a bit higher (4.25 or 4.5) if I could.

I hope Occult Moon follows up with additional Demi-options for the other races.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demi-Options: Halflings
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Thousand-Faced Heroes
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/01/2010 13:04:30

Given its very economical price point, I wanted to like this product more than i did.

If you are playing FATE or Spirit of the Century based games, Thousand-Faced Heroes gives you guidelines for adjusting character skills, stunts and aspects to the "Epic Fantasy" genre,as well as new character concepts, and some quick pick stunt packages to speed up character generation.

No matter what system you are using, TFH gives you an overview of the Epic Fantasy genre with lots of books, movies and other games to pull ideas from, as well an overview of the Hero's Journey and how to use it in your campaign.

Finally,Thousand-Faced Heroes presents a sample Epic Fantasy campaign outline, as well as an introductory adventure. The campaign presented - The Thousand Islands - is fairly interesting, and I would welcome additional and expanded coverage of this campaign in another product.

Some bad editing could be pointed out, but for me my overall disappointment in this book is that the more interesting parts - the different mythical tropes - seem like they could have been more developed (for instance, how could "The Problem of Good & Evil" be used in game to generate adventures and character ideas), while the parts that are developed - the game rules - seem very generic-D&D.

Overall, I feel this is a fair value for its price.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Thousand-Faced Heroes
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Brass, Blood and Steam
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/01/2010 12:45:29

Brass, Blood and Steam is a useful product, especially given its very economical price point.

If you are playing FATE or Spirit of the Century based games, BB&S gives you guidelines for "steampunking" character skills, stunts and aspects, new character concepts, and some quick pick stunt packages to speed up character generation.

No matter what system you are using, BB&S gives you an overview of the Steampunk genre with lots of books, movies and other games to pull ideas from; important tropes to consider in your Steampunk game such as Lost Worlds, Spiritualism, and the role of Women in Victorian culture; and lists of equipment that are current, cutting edge, or futuristic in the Steampunk Era.

Finally, Brass, Blood and Steam presents a sample Sreampunk campaign outline, based in an Antarctic Lost World, as well as an introductory adventure.

Bad points, in brief, are occasional editorial errors - mostly multiple or free floating articles - and some subjects that feel like they could be expanded upon in some length. Mere quibbles in the face of this product's good point.

Overall, I feel this is an excellent value for its price, and a worthwhile purchase for any fan of FATE games or anyone wanting to run a Steampunk RPG with any rules system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brass, Blood and Steam
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The Majestic Wilderlands
Publisher: Bat in the Attic Games
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2009 12:48:46

I bought this item in a fit of Old School nostalgia, and I am very pleased to say it hit the spot!

Roughly half this book details out a campaign world that - while I may read for inspiration and enjoyment - i will probably never use. It is well thought out and covers the necessary bases for a game world.

But the rest contains so many cool and useful bits that I want to use in a game. In addition to fleshing out the basic Sword and Wizardry class with sub-classes such as Berserkers and Rune Casters and Clerics of Thor, this book introduces rules for Rogues, non-Adventurer classes, new races (and new takes on old races) and a complete and playable skill system that doesn't require a ton of rules, charts or fiddly bits. Round things out with some new monsters, new magic items, and rules for Ritual Magic.

There are a few typos and lay out issues, but I feel such things are quibbles in the face of the sheer amount of cool stuff this book hands to you.

Steve W Baltimore, MD



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Majestic Wilderlands
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Limitless Horizons
Publisher: UKG Publishing
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2009 16:48:31

Limitless Horizons is a fun, light read that sparks a lot of ideas, but doesn't always develop them in full.

The product starts with a broad definition of pulp sci-fi, which helps define what this book plans to do and not do. While i do not agree 100% with the authors definition, it's a usable definition that helped me figure out what he was trying to achieve.

The rest of the book consists of 17 pages of rules (Racial Aspects, Scaling, Ship-to-Ship combat, Gravity, etc), a 10 page sample campaign background, and a 10 page adventure.

I was very satisfied with this book, especially for the price. The ship-to-ship combat rules are useful, the ideas on ships-as-player-characters spark some great ideas, and overall the book is a nice source of ideas and "small quick" rules additions.

I would have liked to see maybe a few more pulp sci-fi PCs given as examples, as well as maybe a few quarter-page campaign snap shots showing different types of pulp sci-fi campaigns (ie the Space Cop campaign, the Space Pirates campaign, the Planetary Romance campaign, etc)

Steve W Baltimore, MD



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Limitless Horizons
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Verge 24
Publisher: Peril Planet
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/29/2009 15:48:31

16 pages of goodness! Verge 24 gives a bit of background color, a bit of rules, and a lot of flavor. The genre is fantasypunk - think Charles Dickens writing Shadowrun in the 19th century - and the setting is more a "tone palette" then a concrete game world, so you can let your imagination go wild. The rules system is very light and narrative, with players and GMs trading facts back and forth based on the number of successes rolled.

Verge 24 is perfect as a "quick-and-dirty" RPG to carry around in your notebook and run on the spur of the moment. Two more things would have given it a perfect 5.0 from me - 1) at least a mention of a magic system and 2) a few more sample characters to get a better feel for the bredth of the game.

Steve W Baltimore, MD



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Verge 24
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