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Saxons Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00

If you are like this reviewer, you have neither the desire, or space, or cash, to ?collect? traditional miniatures. Yet, with the tactical combat systems used in many game systems these days, being able to bust out the battle mat and a set of minis is often necessary. Thus you find yourself looking for a practical and inexpensive option for your miniatures needs. Paper miniatures meet this need. When they are packaged as a PDF, you are provided with a readily available source of minis for your games, being able to print as many of a particular figure as you need, without having to invest too much money in them,or time and effort, in the case of those who paint their minis. Additionally, should you feel the need, you can engage in some army man pyrotechnics after a particularly spectacular battle (note, do not attempt!). In short, paper minis are an attractive option for their low cost and convenience, and are also logical options for collectors needing a particular miniature, or several of them, for their game.

The figures in Arion Games? miniatures sets come in 3 styles, ?A-frame?, ?Flat?, and ?Triagonal?. The ?A-frame? and ?Flat? figures can be constructed from the same sheets, depending on how they are cut out. The ?Triagonal? minis are constructed from a separate sheet. These construction choices provide additional options in preparing your minis for use in the game, major characters or monsters can be constructed as the ?Triagonal? versions to provide a more visual flair, and to emphasize their importance. Other figures can be done as ?A-Frame? or flat versions to make them easier to handle or distinguish them from each other, thus providing a functional use beyond their graphical characteristics.

The instructions are easy to follow and assembling the minis is quick and painless, just requiring a bit of work with scissors and some glue. There are also instructions provided on how to prepare a custom sheet of figures to meet your specific needs. The minis look good, even when printed on plain paper. Each figure is drawn from a 3D rendering (done in Poser using figures provided by DAZED, according to the credits), providing sharp detail and life-like shading, even when printed.

This 3 page PDF (7 with cover & assembly instructions) provides a set of paper miniatures featuring historical Saxon figures, including 4 mounted figures. The set includes two Saxon Thegns figures, who most likely have brawny thews, three Saxon Fyrdsmen, stout yeoman no doubt, three Saxon Huscarls, doughty fighters all, two Saxon Peasants (one male and one female), one Saxon Coastguard, one Saxon Ealdorman, one Saxon Noblewoman, looking back over her shoulder, one Saxon Sailor, and a Saxon King figure. The mounted figures include a Mounted Saxon Thegn, a Mounted Saxon Ealdorman, a Mounted Saxon King, and a Mounted Saxon Coastguard.

Overall, this is another excellent product from Arion Games, providing a historically accurate selection of authentic looking Saxons for your historical and fantasy miniatures needs. Adding in the fact that you can print as many as you need, and prepare your own figure sheets, this is excellent value as well. I recommend it to anyone looking conquer some barbaric Celts or looking for some Saxon dogs to be subjugated by your Norman pigs.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Overall Excellent graphics, ?triagonal? minis as well as flat/A-frame. Mounted figures are nice. Authentic details and historically accurate armaments.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Noblewoman figure is indistinct and hard to tell which direction she is facing, skirt is washed out looking. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Saxons Set
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Undead Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00

If you are like this reviewer, you have neither the desire, or space, or cash, to ?collect? traditional miniatures. Yet, with the tactical combat systems used in many game systems these days, being able to bust out the battle mat and a set of minis is often necessary. Thus you find yourself looking for a practical and inexpensive option for your miniatures needs. Paper miniatures meet this need. When they are packaged as a PDF, you are provided with a readily available source of minis for your games, being able to print as many of a particular figure as you need, without having to invest too much money in them, or time and effort, in the case of those who paint their minis. It also saves you from having to crawl around on the floor looking for lost minis after a grueling gaming session. In short, paper minis are an attractive option for their low cost and convenience, and are also logical options for collectors needing a particular miniature, or several of them, for their game.

The figures in Arion Games? miniatures sets come in 3 styles, ?A-frame?, ?Flat?, and ?Triagonal?. The ?A-frame? and ?Flat? figures can be constructed from the same sheets, depending on how they are cut out. The ?Triagonal? minis are constructed from a separate sheet. These construction choices provide additional options in preparing your minis for use in the game, major characters or monsters can be constructed as the ?Triagonal? versions to provide a more visual flair, and to emphasize their importance. Other figures can be done as ?A-Frame? or flat versions to make them easier to handle or distinguish them from each other, thus providing a functional use beyond their graphical characteristics.

The instructions are easy to follow and assembling the minis is quick and painless, just requiring a bit of work with scissors and some glue. There are also instructions provided on how to prepare a custom sheet of figures to meet your specific needs. The minis look good, even when printed on plain paper. Each figure is drawn from a 3D rendering (done in Poser using figures provided by DAZED, according to the credits), providing sharp detail and life-like shading, even when printed.

This 3 page PDF (7 with cover & assembly instructions) provides a set of paper miniatures featuring Undead creatures, as well as 2 creatures mounted on undead steeds, and a Skeletal Dragon. The set includes two different Ghouls, two Skeletons, three different Skeleton Warriors, an armed Specter, a Mummy, with a stick (of pain?), two pale and scabrous looking Zombies, a rather stiff looking Wraith, a flamboyant Vampire that favors red, a rather healthy looking Liche, and a Jack O? Lantern creature thing. Also included are a Mounted Wraith in black on a black steed, and Mounted Skeleton Warrior and a pale white Skeletal Dragon.

Overall, this is very good product from Arion Games, providing a solid selection of mostly good looking Undead figures for your horror and fantasy miniatures needs. Adding in the fact that you can print as many as you need, and prepare your own figure sheets, this is excellent value as well. I recommend it to anyone looking unleash the terrors of the grave on his players, or annoy them with that Jack O? Lantern thing.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Overall Excellent graphics, ?triagonal? minis as well as flat/A-frame. Disgusting zombies<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Jack O Lantern thing, Liche doesn?t look very undead, could have used more Zombies, and fewer skeletons. Too much black in Mounted Wraith, Skeletal Dragon needs more contrast. <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!]
Undead Set
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Modern Soldiers Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00

If you are like this reviewer, you have neither the desire, or space, or cash, to ?collect? traditional miniatures. Yet, with the tactical combat systems used in many game systems these days, being able to bust out the battle mat and a set of minis is often necessary. Thus you find yourself looking for a practical and inexpensive option for your miniatures needs. Paper miniatures meet this need. When they are packaged as a PDF, you are provided with a readily available source of minis for your games, being able to print as many of a particular figure as you need, without having to invest too much money in them, or time and effort, in the case of those who paint their minis. It also saves you from being upset if one of your minis gets sloshed with mountain dew or dropped on the floor. In short, paper minis are an attractive option for their low cost and convenience, and are also logical options for collectors needing a particular miniature, or several of them, for their game.

The figures in Arion Games? miniatures sets come in 3 styles, ?A-frame?, ?Flat?, and ?Triagonal?. The ?A-frame? and ?Flat? figures can be constructed from the same sheets, depending on how they are cut out. The ?Triagonal? minis are constructed from a separate sheet. These construction choices provide additional options in preparing your minis for use in the game, major characters or monsters can be constructed as the ?Triagonal? versions to provide a more visual flair, and to emphasize their importance. Other figures can be done as ?A-Frame? or flat versions to make them easier to handle or distinguish them from each other, thus providing a functional use beyond their graphical characteristics.

The instructions are easy to follow and assembling the minis is quick and painless, just requiring a bit of work with scissors and some glue. There are also instructions provided on how to prepare a custom sheet of figures to meet your specific needs. The minis look good, even when printed on plain paper. Each figure is drawn from a 3D rendering (done in Poser using figures provided by DAZED, according to the credits), providing sharp detail and life-like shading, even when printed.

This 4 page PDF (8 with cover & assembly instructions) provides a set of paper miniatures featuring modern soldiers, as well as 3 vehicles., The set includes a 6 different Soldier figures, in a variety of camouflage patterns, a Machine Gunner, a Sniper figure, a Rocket Launcher armed Soldier, an Army Medic, a Sergeant Figure, a Sailor, a Paratrooper, and Paramilitary type figure, and an Officer, who looks to be wearing Marine dress uniform?. The 3 vehicles are the ubiquitous Humvee, an M2A2 Bradley APC, a Land Rover, the wheeled vehicles are done in a desert paint scheme, and the Bradley in a woodland paint scheme. The triagonal versions of the vehicle figures look particularly good

Overall, this is another excellent product from Arion Games, providing a solid selection of good looking modern military figures in a variety of camo types for your modern warfare miniature needs. Adding in the fact that you can print as many as you need, and prepare your own figure sheets, this is excellent value as well. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to field a squad of soldiers, or send in the marines in their next game.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Excellent graphics, ?triagonal? minis as well as flat/A-frame<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Officer and Sailor figures are kind of plain, and don?t look as believable as other figures<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Modern Soldiers Set
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Egyptians Set
Publisher: Arion Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00

If you are like this reviewer, you have neither the desire, or space, or cash, to ?collect? traditional miniatures. Yet, with the tactical combat systems used in many game systems these days, being able to bust out the battle mat and a set of minis is often necessary. Thus you find yourself looking for a practical and inexpensive option for your miniatures needs. Paper miniatures meet this need. When they are packaged as a PDF, you are provided with a readily available source of minis for your games, being able to print as many of a particular figure as you need, without having to invest too much money in them, or time and effort, in the case of those who paint their minis. It also saves you from being upset if one of your minis ends up mired in a quicksand of spilled soda and Cheetos crumbs, or is dashed to the floor and crushed under the foot of some boisterous gamer exclaiming ?Foul Beast, do you rue attacking Krunk, do you RUE It?? In short, paper minis are an attractive option for their low cost and convenience, and are also logical options for collectors needing a particular miniature, or several of them, for their game.

The figures in Arion Games? miniatures sets come in 3 styles, ?A-frame?, ?Flat?, and ?Triagonal?. The ?A-frame? and ?Flat? figures can be constructed from the same sheets, depending on how they are cut out. The ?Triagonal? minis are constructed from a separate sheet. These construction choices provide additional options in preparing your minis for use in the game, major characters or monsters can be constructed as the ?Triagonal? versions to provide a more visual flair, and to emphasize their importance. Other figures can be done as ?A-Frame? or flat versions to make them easier to handle or distinguish them from each other, thus providing a functional use beyond their graphical characteristics.

The instructions are easy to follow and assembling the minis is quick and painless, just requiring a bit of work with scissors and some glue. There are also instructions provided on how to prepare a custom sheet of figures to meet your specific needs. The minis look good, even when printed on plain paper. Each figure is drawn from a 3D rendering (done in Poser using figures provided by DAZED, according to the credits), providing sharp detail and life-like shading, even when printed.

This 3 page PDF (7 with cover & assembly instructions) provides a set of paper miniatures drawn from historical Egyptian figures, with some mythical Egyptian figures thrown in as well. The set includes a Pharaoh, Priest, Nubian Guard, Queen, Priestess, Noblewoman, Charioteer, Archer, Boy, and General figures. It also includes 4 different Soldier figures, a Chariot figure, drawn to scale. There are a Mummy, Sphinx, and ?Anubite? figure included as well, again, scaled to the relative size.

Overall, this is an excellent product, providing a nice selection of good looking figures in a variety of styles for your miniature needs. Adding in the fact that you can print as many as you need, and prepare your own figure sheets, this is excellent value as well. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some historical Egyptian figures for their mini needs.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Excellent graphics, ?triagonal? minis as well as flat/A-frame. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Other than the fact that they require you to bust out the scissors and glue and revisit your elementary school days, none. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Egyptians Set
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Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2006 00:00:00

Shadowspawn?s Guide to Sanctuary is a 252 page PDF (257 with Full color cover, OGL/Credits page, & 3 pages of ads) city guide for D20/D&D 3.5, It features an overview of the infamous city at the center of the Thieves? World novels, Sanctuary. The guide is made up of 8 chapters and an introduction. Chapter one provides a timeline and history of Sanctuary from it?s founding by Ilsigi tribesmen, through it?s subjugation by the Rankan Empire, the occupation of the Beysib, onto current times and the rule of the nomadic Irrune. Chapter two provides an overview of life in the city of Sanctuary. Chapter three provides an overview of the city of Sanctuary, its districts and notable locations, outlying areas and the surrounding region, during both the Rankan era, and the current Irrune era. Chapter four provides listings for major characters, as featured in the books, from the Rankan era, while chapter five provides listings of major characters, as featured in the books, from the Irrune Era. Chapter six covers adventuring in Sanctuary. Chapter seven offers write-ups of several common character?s to be found in Sanctuary, saving the GM the trouble of generating them himself. Finally, chapter 8 is the player?s expansion, adding additional cultures, backgrounds, feats, and prestige classes, and a section on Ur-Words.

The introduction provides an overview of Sanctuary as a gaming setting, discussing the types of campaign that fit within it?s Eras, and the nature and tone of the games staged in the setting, ending with an encouragement to fill in the ?undiscovered country? of the setting with your own ideas and character?s, just as the writer?s of the anthologies worked alongside and in-between the other writers in the setting. Or to change major features of the setting to reflect developments you have instituted.

Chapter one provides an informative overview of Sanctuary?s history with an emphasis on the Rankan and Irrune eras, as featured in the Thieves? World anthologies. This is especially useful for old fans, like me, who may not be familiar with the new stories set in the Irrune era.

Chapter two gives you a street, or gutter, level overview of life in Sanctuary, in both the Rankan and Irrune eras, with notes about economics & industry, religion, drugs & the drug trade (always a major theme in the original anthologies, and a major part of the grim & gritty tone of the stories.), food, entertainment, and of course crime, and for those who get caught, punishment. The chapter then goes on to cover the politics of the city, and its police & military forces. The chapter ends with information on other power groups and organizations within the city, such as the Blue Star Adepts, which featured in the original anthology.

Chapter three provides an overview of the geography and layout of Sanctuary, providing descriptions of its major districts and notable locations, such as the Vulgar Unicorn tavern in the Maze, or the location of Prince Kadakithis? palace, which was destroyed during the Irrune era. Tables providing random building types are provided as well as maps of Sanctuary during the Rankan and Irrune eras. Each map features keyed entries listing the various described locations. There is also a map provided for the infamous Vulgar Unicorn, whose write-up includes a listing of drink prices and other bits of setting detail.

Chapter four and five include write-ups, with description, personality, stat-blocks and notes, for major characters from the Thieves? World anthologies, both from the original series? Rankan Era, and the new series? Irrune Era. All of the notables are included, such as the wizard Enas Yorl, Hanse called Shadowspawn, your titular guide to Sanctuary, the former gladiator turned crime lord Jubal, Lastel ?One-Thumb? the owner of the Vulgar Unicorn, Lythande, the Blue Star Adept, the stepson Nikodamus, and nigh-immortal Tempus, godsworn of Vashanka.

Chapter six covers adventuring in sanctuary, including rules for adapting the basic classes and D&Ds magic system to feel more like magic in the Thieves? World setting. Some optional rules variants, including Action Points, as present in D20 Modern, and a class defense bonus, to reflect that armor is rarely worn in thieves? world setting. Another interesting variant offered for the campaign structure is the use of Round-Robin GMing, or character clusters. These variants are meant to reflect the differences of voice and style, and tone, to a certain degree, present in the anthologies, due to the different authors writing the individual stories. The chapter is rounded out by a short section on bringing across a city atmosphere, and the dirty, squalid place that is Sanctuary, in particular. Finally, a table of 100 adventure seeds, and an expansive collection of Rankan Era adventure outlines is provided.

Chapter seven provides a convenient selection of NPC write-ups for common character types to be encountered in Sanctuary, saving the GM the trouble of statting them up himself.

Finally, chapter eight provides an additional selection of crunchy player options. This includes additional minor cultures a character may be from, most of which are common to the Rankan era. Next is a selection of additional backgrounds, providing more Sanctuary specific ?life-paths? a character might have followed. A selection of new feats are provided, most of which are based on the Ur-word ?magic? system also detailed in this chapter. Finally eight new prestige classes are included, some of the more interesting ones being Harka Bey Assassin and Nisibisi Spy.

The PDF itself is a very attractive affair, done in black & white with grayscale artwork. It is laid out in two columns with plenty of white-space. It features an appealing decorative font for section headings, and a clear readable font for body text. However, many section headings are done as a white text on a solid black bar, another ink waster, while others use a thick rule or thin double rule. The header and footer use a dark text color on a solid textured graphic, which was presumably colored in the print version, which is going to kill your ink and mortally wound your toner if you print the PDF. The color is a nice full-color piece featuring Shadowspawn in some kind of action pose in an alleyway. Pretty, but another terrible ink sucker. The artwork is of decent to good quality, done by a number of artists, ranging from simple line art to ?painted? grayscale pieces.

Overall, this is an excellent product, packed with lots of good details on Sanctuary, its history, peoples, politics, and customs. The city is laid bare for your adventuring pleasure with lots of description and adventure hooks gracing the chapters, and interesting color quips from Shadowspawn here and there. So, if you are playing a D20 Thieves? World game, buy it, if you want to run a Thieves World game in another system, it is still worth the money, and it is even a worthwhile purchase for a plain old Thieves? World fanboy. Unfortunately, as PDFs go, it is a masochistic purchase if you want a print-out of it. So only print out bits you need, or get it printed a print-shop, your ink/toner cartridge will appreciate your mercy, not to mention your wallet.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Maps, history, color quotes by Shadowspawn, story pulls, and extra culture write-ups<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The print version of a PDF (and with a busy "print" design like this, there should be a print version) should not be the PDF converted from the dead-tree version of the product, but the PDF with the ink-wasting decorative elements and fancy backgrounds removed, thank you, drive through. Oh, what?s up with the 3 pages, of dark background ads at the back, you got stock in a printer company or something?<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowspawn's Guide to Sanctuary
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Another 22 Talent Trees
Publisher: Bloodstone Press
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/24/2006 00:00:00

This 13 page PDF (19 with cover, credits, OGL declaration & 3 pages of advertisements) provides 22 new talent trees for use in D20 Modern games, and four martial arts feats.

In the D20 Modern system, not only do characters have Feats as in the D&D3.x/D20 system, but they also have Talents. Talents are extraordinary abilities a character can acquire, each basic D20 Modern class, Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, & Charismatic has a number of talent trees available to it, receiving a talent each even numbered level. Talents provide character?s with unusual bonuses to various actions, or enhanced abilities or new actions, such as the Strong Hero?s Damage Reduction Talent, which provides points of damage reduction at various levels, or the Smart Hero?s Exploit Weakness Talent, which lets him substitute his INT modifier for his DEX or STR modifier on an attack, from the Strategy Talent Tree. The talent trees are specific to a character class, unlike most Feats, and offers abilities that tie into the basic class? ability based theme. However, the selection of talent trees provided in the SRD is fairly anemic, with the Smart only having two talent trees available to it, most other classes having 3 or 4.

The 22 talents trees mentioned in the title break down into three talent trees for the Strong Hero class, consisting of 17 different talents. There are five talent trees for the Fast Hero class, made up of 20 different talents. There are four talent trees for the Tough Hero class, consisting of 21 talents. There are only two talent trees for the Smart Hero class, dividing 13 talents between them. There are six talent trees provided for the Dedicated Hero, splitting 31 talents between them. Finally, there are just two talent trees for the Charismatic Hero, divvying up 12 talents between them.

The talent trees for the Strong Hero class are Brawler (which would have been better titled Grappler since all of its talents provide grappling related abilities), Melee Brute, and Rage. The talent trees for the Fast Hero class include Accuracy & Precision, the talents from which offers bonuses to hit and bonuses to damage, respectively, with ranged weapons. Also available to the Fast Hero are the Lightning Fists, Speed Wrestling, and Agile talent trees, the talents of which offer multiple unarmed attacks, multiple grappling attacks or other bonuses, and bonuses to reflex saves and enhanced dodging, respectively. The talent trees for the Tough Hero class include Grappling Resistance, the talents of which provides bonuses to AoO made against those trying to grapple him, an reduced damage, Survivalist, the talents of which provides various bonuses and enhancements to resisting exposure, starvation, and dehydration, Thick Skinned, the talents of which provides natural armor bonuses, and Toughened Grappling, the talents of which provides bonuses to grappling and allows the character to attempt to fatigue opponents he is grappling with.

The talent trees for the Smart Hero class include Arcane Secrets, the talents of which provide ability bonuses and spell casting & Psionic ability enhancements, the talents require spell casting or Psionic talents however, and Brains over Brawn, the talents of which allow the character to use his intelligence bonus on attacks, or to gain an advantage against opponents on a successful Knowledge (Tactics) check. The talent trees for the Dedicated Hero class include Astral Sense, the talents of which provide bonuses to spot check, or allow the spending of an action point to detect hiding or invisible creatures, Dedicated Warrior, the talents of which provide attack bonuses with a favored weapon, Divine Balance, the talents of which provide bonuses to dodge or reflex save, Hated Enemy, the talents of which provides bonuses when fighting an opponent of that type, Nature Lore, the talents of which provide bonuses to terrain related skill checks or special movement abilities within a favored terrain, and Zen, the talents of which provide bonuses to spot and listen checks, craft checks, and combat bonuses. The talent trees listed for the Charismatic Hero class include Fancy Fighter, the talents of which allows a character to cause opponents to act as if shaken, cower, or fight defensively, and Heroic Deeds, the talents of which allow the character to add his Charisma modifier as bonuses to attack and defense checks.

Finally, 4 martial arts feats are included, Devil Finger, which causes damage that cannot be healed normally, Locust Leap, that allows character to make leaping attacks against opponents 10 feet away or more, One Ton Kick, which is a kick that can knock the target back, and Zen Combat Focus, which provides bonuses to the character?s melee combat actions.

The PDF itself is a passable affair laid out in two columns, with easy to read fonts and tables, a few text-boxes, white text on a red background (a major ink waster), are used as well. The cover illustration is ok, a dark-red textured background with a line art piece of a female martial artist, and the title text in large black type. However, you will likely want to skip printing it to save ink. There are eight pieces of interior artwork, all line-art, about half of which are of good quality, and the other of poor quality. There are also 3 pages of ads tacked onto the end of the product, another ink waster.

Overall, this is a decent product. A majority of the talent trees in this product focus on combat abilities, which can be good or bad depending on the campaign. Some of them, such as the Tough Hero?s Grappling Resistance talent tree, or the Strong Hero?s Rage talent tree don?t feel very thematically appropriate to their class. Also, the value of the grappling based talents seems a bit dubious for most campaigns (Unless the campaign involves pro wrestler?s fighting evil, which would be cool.) The Accuracy and Precision talent trees for the Fast Hero class are also kind of iffy thematically, and would work just as well as feats for all classes. So, if a GM or player finds any of the talent tree?s appealing, this would make a good product to bulk up the talent trees available in the D20 Modern rules.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Brains over Brawn talent tree, Hated Enemy talent tree.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Too many grappling based talents, Why 3 pages of ads?<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Another 22 Talent Trees
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22 Talent Trees
Publisher: Bloodstone Press
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/22/2006 00:00:00

This 13 page PDF(18 with cover, credits, OGL declaration & 3 pages of advertisements) provides 22 new talent trees for use in D20 Modern games, and a new use for Treat Injury, transplant surgery, and a new feat, Transplant Surgery.

In the D20 Modern system, not only do characters have Feats as in the D&D3.x/D20 system, but they also have Talents. Talents are extraordinary abilities a character can acquire. Each basic D20 Modern class, Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, & Charismatic has a number of talent trees available to it, receiving a talent each even numbered level. Talents provide character?s with unusual bonuses to various actions, or enhanced abilities or new actions, such as the Strong Hero?s Damage Reduction Talent, which provides points of damage reduction at various levels, or the Smart Hero?s Exploit Weakness Talent, which lets him substitute his INT modifier for his DEX or STR modifier on an attack, from the Strategy Talent Tree. The talent trees are specific to a character class, unlike most Feats, and offers abilities that tie into the basic class? ability based theme. However, the selection of talent trees provided in the SRD is fairly anemic, with the Smart Hero class only having two talent trees available to it, most other classes having 3 or 4.

The 22 talents trees mentioned in the title break down into five talent trees for the Strong Hero class, consisting of 17 different talents. There are four talent trees for the Fast Hero class, made up of 16 different talents. There are only 2 talent trees for the Tough Hero class, consisting of just 7 talents between them. There are three talent trees for the Smart Hero class, dividing 13 talents between them. There are four talent trees provided for the Dedicated Hero, splitting 19 talents between them. Finally, there are four talent trees provided for the Charismatic Hero, divvying up 14 talents between them.

The talent trees are fairly solid, most offering significant enhanced abilities instead of just modifiers to a few skill checks. Some of the standouts are the Mighty talent tree for the Strong Hero, letting him add his Strength modifier to various saving throws, allowing the character to draw on his Herculean physique to give him the extra oomph to resist the effect. The most interesting Talent tree available to the Fast Hero is the Quicker than the Eye tree, the Talents of which, with the expenditure of an action point, let him move so fast as to seem a blur to other character?s, granting the character a concealment based miss chance against foes. The standout talent tree available to the Tough hero is the FX resistance tree, which provides him bonus to resist FX abilities, achieving a hefty bonus of 20 plus his Tough Hero class level with the Maximum FX Resistance capstone talent. The Tactical talent tree is the most interesting available to the Smart Hero, from this tree, the Outsmart Talent, with the expenditure of an action point and a successful check, allows the character to avoid all attacks from a particular character for a number of rounds, and the Keen Attacks talents let him, with the expenditure of an action point, increase the critical range of his attacks. All of the 3 talent trees provided for the Dedicated Hero class seem desirable, I found the Virtuous talent tree most interesting, as it allows the character?s single-minded dedication to an ideal or ethos to provide him with bonuses on skill uses, for the base Virtuous talent, and, with the expenditure of an action point, even inspire his friends & allies, or discomfit his enemies, using the (Greater) Aura of Virtue, and Aura of Righteousness talents, respectively. The Charismatic Hero has the Intimidating talent tree available as a standout, giving character?s a chance to get in touch with their ?Inner Batman?. Honorable mention goes to the pulchritudinous talent tree, for using the Gygaxian pulchritudinous in its title.

Finally, the new use for the Treat Injury skill, only available for use by those character with Treat Injury and the Surgery feat, lets a character, on a successful DC 25 skill check, transfer hit points between characters, healing them by transplanting organs, skin grafts, or blood transfusion. If the character doesn?t have the new Transplant Surgery feat provided in this product, they suffer a -4 penalty to the skill check, and can only transfer one hit points to the transplant recipient for every 2 points provided by the donor. The Transplant surgery feat removes the -4 penalty, and allows a 1 to 1 transfer. Additionally, the Life Support talent from the Dedicated Hero?s Selfless talent tree, allows this to work on a 2 for 1 basis, if the surgeon posses the Transplant Surgery feat, otherwise it is on a 1 to 1 basis.

The PDF itself is a passable affair laid out in two columns, with easy to read fonts and tables. The cover illustration is ok, a brown-red textured background with a stylized illustration of a trench-coat clad individual weathering some kind of blast from ominous looking figures emerging from a row of cars in the background, and the title text. However, you will likely want to skip printing it to save ink. There are six pieces of interior artwork, most of which are merely passable line art, including a repeat of the cover art. The illustration in the Charismatic Hero talent tree section is a standout, being of higher quality than the other pieces, and an ?h4wt chixx0r? to boot. There are also 3 pages of ads tacked onto the end of the product, another ink waster.

Overall, this is a solid product, filling in the rather limited selection of talent trees provided in the D20 Modern SRD. I recommend it to both D20 Modern players and GMs looking to expand their character creation options.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Lots of substantial ability based talents, instead of +2 to skill talents<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Why 3 pages of ads?<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
22 Talent Trees
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RDP: Beyond Modern -- Paranormal Investigator
Publisher:
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2006 00:00:00

This 10 page (13 with cover, credits and OGL declaration) PDF details the Paranormal Investigator Advanced Class for use in D20 Modern games, as well as a Prestige Class, the Sentinel based on the ?The Order of the Watch Tower? organization described in the PDF. It also includes three new FX items, Arcane Armor, Resonant Psi-armor, and Cell Phone of Recall.

The Paranormal Investigator, as its name implies, is primarily oriented around information gathering and investigation skills, with an emphasis on the paranormal. Its entry requirements include a BAB of +2, 6 ranks in Investigate, Research and Gather Information, and 3 ranks in Knowledge (Arcane Lore). It also requires the Supernatural Strike and either Psionic or Arcane feats. The fastest path into the Paranormal Investigator class is via the Smart Hero basic class. As a skill heavy class, it gains 5+ INT mod skill points per level.

Its class features include Area of Expertise, providing a +2 competence bonus with two of Shadow Knowledge, Occult Knowledge, Secret Societies, and Psychic Phenomenon, gained at first level, increasing to a +4 Savant bonus at 5th level, plus the choice of a +6 bonus and halved research times with the player?s choice of one of the aforementioned knowledge skills. Also gained at 5th levels is a Cover Track?s ability, allowing him to avoid leaving tell-tale traces of his investigation regarding as subject.

He also gains contacts within the Shadow community at 2nd and 7th levels, providing him with bonuses when dealing with them. At 6th level he develops Sixth Sense ability, allowing him bonuses in surprise situations. At 8th level he gains an Information Network feat providing him a number of contacts that provide him with bonuses when using Diplomacy or Gather Information with them. He also has his research times halved thanks to his access to his contacts information. At 10th level he gains an Immediate Assessment feat, allowing him to use information skills to immediately determine the authenticity about an item or bit information or news regarding occult or arcane objects or happenings. He also gains Bonus feats at 3rd, 6th, and 9th level, which he is able to choose from a short list.

The Order of the Watch Tower organization is a United States based secret protection society formed during the revolutionary war to fight off a Shadow attack on the continental congress. It is purported to have ties to Masonic Lodges. It is fronted by the Society for the Preservation of Historical Relics, or S.P.O.H.R. It mission is to protect citizens of the US from supernatural threats both foreign and domestic. Its most interesting feature being its network of operatives, called Sentinels. They are focused on securing artifacts of occult power and combating supernatural threats, such as vampires or fiends.

The Sentinel Prestige Class is a 5 level class with a focus on investigative abilities and combating supernatural threats. It gives a character access to Arcane Skills & powers, or Psionic Skills & powers. It also provides a shadow walk special ability, allowing the character to move quickly in shadows, while still being stealthy. The advanced version of this, Shadow Walk II, gained at 4th level, allows for teleportation between areas of shadow. Finally the Sentinel gains the Supernatural Smite ability, allowing him to make an attack with damage bonuses based on his level.

The PDF includes 4 Feats, Sense Shadowkind (allowing detection of shadowkind movement in an area), Ghost Taint (allowing character that has been attacked by Ghost to become non-corporeal once a day), Werewolf Taint (Allowing a character that been attacked by a werewolf to smell like a werewolf, giving him bonuses when interacting with them.), and Vampire Taint (Allowing a character that has been partially drained by a vampire to detect the unique scent left by a vampire that has recently fed.)

Finally, there are 3 FX items, Arcane Armor, which provides reduced chance of spell failure when worn, Resonant Psi- Armor, which provides access to psionic battlemind abilities by those who attuned themselves to it, and Cell Phone of Recall, which will teleport a character to a home base, or to another user?s current location.

The PDF itself is laid in two columns, with a distressed decorative font, in blue, for major section titles. The screen version features a ?distressed looking? color header and footer. The right hand margin features a similar colored graphic, with the page number surrounded by red shading in the middle right. The left margin features another distressed grey color graphic shading and the words Beyond Modern in the blue distressed font. These aren?t present in the print version of the product, saving your ink.

There are a few grayscale character portrait pieces in the body of the document, both of which I found appealing and well done. The cover is an amateurish looking piece, with poorly done features and the posing of the head is off. The coloring had a distressed fade applied to its border and makes the piece look junky and unappealing. The effect makes it look the coloring was done in colored pencil that was partially erased.

To recap, the Paranormal Investigator class makes for a solid take on the concept, and would work well in supernatural investigation campaign. The Order of the Watch Tower organization was pretty ho hum, with very little detail about it?s past or workings. The Sentinel Prestige Class seems solid, and capable of kicking Shadow butt. The new feats make for interesting background bits for characters, though the Ghost Taint allowing the character to become incorporeal seems a bit powerful compared to the Werewolf and Vampire Taint feats. The FX items were solid, with the Cell Phone of Recall being the most interesting. Overall this is a worthwhile investment for players looking to setup a supernatural investigation type of campaign for D20 modern.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Cell Phone of Recall, Werewolf & Vampire Taint Feats<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Order of The Watch Tower ho-hum and underdeveloped, Ghost Taint feat seems a bit too powerful. Cover art is ugly. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]

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Lesser Fantasy Treasures
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2006 00:00:00

This 4 page PDF (5 with the separate cover page) provides a short but sweet list of ?lesser fantasy treasures?, which are various semi-valuable mundane items such as pieces of jewelry, accouterments and knick-knacks, each worth between 1gp and 100gp. These treasures are aimed primarily at adding interest, variety, and a bit of realism to the list of treasure that can be acquired by low-level adventurers, as not all of the loot found will be in the form of the ubiquitous copper, silver, and gold coins.

There are twenty of these lesser treasures and they are presented in a table, allowing for a random roll. The table lists the item, a description and an approximate value. Following the table are descriptions of the various items. The items are varied and interesting, including a silver chain of wolf?s teeth, a hardwood trinket box, a lizard hide throw, rare cologne, a simple brass hookah, and a stuffed badger (presumably the players will have to hunt down and stuff a beaver themselves.) The hookah description failed to indicate that a hookah is an elaborate vase-like base, tube, and mouthpiece arrangement used for smoking, a useful bit of information as many players might not be familiar with it, Alice in Wonderland not withstanding.

The PDF itself is laid out in a two column format with lined border pieces and elaborate brocade-like colored page header and footer graphic in brown and dark red shades. The body text is an easy to read serif font with bold section headers, it has a nice non-cramped layout with adequate white-space. There are various small pieces of art, depicting a goblet, ring, and similar items in its four pages. The header and footers are likely to waste a lot of ink, however. The cover is done as a separate PDF, and is fairly attractive, but very color heavy, which I presume is why it is done a separate PDF.

Overall this is a decent product, short but with a lot of interesting bits presented in a clean attractive layout. For a GM looking for some ideas for low-level treasures instead of a pile of coins, this is a reasonable buy. Also, fencing and appraising some of these items will give Rogues and other characters a chance to use their skills, however no DC's are given for such a task. Also, some adventure hooks to go with the unique items would have made the product more compelling.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Stuffed badger, Hardwood trinket box, Rose quartz pig. Clean layout<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Misuse of pandering for pattering? What?s a hookah? <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lesser Fantasy Treasures
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Rooms & Encounters: The Fungal Corridor
Publisher: 0one Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2006 00:00:00

This 10 page PDF (13 with OGL declaration & Credits, Front & Back covers) presents a single ?room? encounter from the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure module series, available from 0one games (A self-confessed nigh-endless dungeon full of innumerable monsters. why? no one knows.). The Fungal Corridor, Room 12 of level 1, is presented in this PDF. However, it can easily be adapted for use in other adventures by the GM.

The PDF itself includes some introductory text explaining the ?Rule the Dungeon? features of the document, which I?ll cover in the next paragraph, a brief history of the Dungeon under the Mountain of which this ?room? is part, a bit of history on the ?Fungal Corridor?, stating that the players may have heard references to it in other parts of the dungeon. This is followed by a description of the corridor, and a section detailing the fungus encrusting its walls, and the traps & hazards to be found in the corridor, as well as descriptions, stat-blocks & play info for the monsters inhabiting it. Finally, a GM?s map and four page battle map is included. The map features the corridor, which, from the secret door, opens on a large narrow cavern falling away 40 feet below, with a rickety rope bridge leading down into it, with a corner just beyond that, turning to the right, leads into a further 90 foot section of corridor abutting a dead end with a chimney & rope ladder leading up into room 8 of The Dungeon Under the Mountain, or whatever the GM chooses if not using that module..

The room, trap/puzzle, & encounter information?s utility is greatly increased by the ?Rule the Dungeon? feature of the PDF. Taking advantage of the layer feature of PDFs, a GM can scale the encounter to be low, mid, or high level, which makes the encounters roughly CR4, CR 7, and CR 9 respectively. By selecting which level of challenge they want from a drop down list accessed via the ?Rule the Dungeon? button image, the encounter stats automatically change to scale to that level. This feature can be used on the encounter as a whole using the master ?Rule the Dungeon? button, or on individual elements, such as traps/puzzles, skill checks, and monsters, using the small ?Rule the Dungeon? buttons by each section. This is great feature which really increases the value of the product, making it more attractive for GM?s not using the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure. As in other 0one products, the map features on the GM Map & battle map can be individually toggled on or off as well, further increasing the usefulness of the product for GMs. Finally, there is a notes page in which the GM can record his own notes for the adventure, notes that will be saved with the PDF and thus can be reloaded and reprinted with ease.

As stated the corridor consists of a large, narrow cavern traversed by a rope bridge leading 40 feet to the floor below. The major feature of this corridor is its namesake fungus, which is highly flammable, and soft and spongy, absorbing sound, but making climbing and tracking easier. At the corner of the corridor is a magic mouth, that will attempt to draw the players by a message mentioning gold, where a zombie centipede swarm makes its nest. This can be a tough encounter if the players blunder into it, as the swarm can?t be killed with normal weapons, and being undead can?t be affected by charms or similar spells, instead requiring fire, or some other area effect to deal with effectively. However, using fire will cause the corridor to erupt in flame after the fungus catches fire, and fill with a thick oily smoke, thus further limiting their options.

The zombie centipede swarm is a fairly tough opponent due to the problems with using fire to combat it, due to the fungus, and the need for area effect weapons, at higher levels, the players will have to deal with up to 6 of them, though text only mentions five, and misses the 2nd one. Also, the fungus write up is buggy, as it lists an attack modifier when, as a swarm, it automatically hits any target caught within the swarm. The amount of damage is correct, however. Also, it lists a DR against slashing weapons, despite the fact that as a swarm, it is immune to normal weapon damage. Also, it lists the swarm as CR 9, when it should be listed as CR 6, EL 9. And it lists a single swarm as being CR 4, when it should be CR 6. Also, the use of the Zombie template is dodgy.

The PDF is laid out in 3 columns, using a blue font for section headings, bold fonts in black for text headings, with a nice readable serif font for the body. Each page also features a nice page header with the title of the product. There are various bits of pencil sketch style ?filler? art within the document, which are used dynamically to fill in empty text created when the ?Rule the Dungeon? features are used, all of which is decent. Overall the layout is clean and readable, and adjusts to the dynamic features of the text without problems.

Overall this isn?t that compelling of a product for GM?s without the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure, as it is more of a stop to somewhere interesting, and the room to which it leads isn?t defined. The application of the layer feature, which is normally a strength of 0one products, is less compelling here as the main encounter write up is dodgy at higher levels. The fungus is moderately interesting, as is the new spell, fungus patch that is included; the corridor itself could make interesting fodder for a GM to adapt for another adventure. If the GM finds the corridor map and the fungus interesting he will find this product useful, however the value of the encounter itself is lessened as it is only a stop to somewhere more interesting, somewhere which isn?t defined. . If the GM has the adventure, then this is a much more compelling purchase.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: flammable fungus, fungus patch spell. Rule the Dungeon feature rules. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: several grammar mistakes and spotty editing. Corridor doesn?t lead to anywhere interesting, Dodgy monster writeups. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Rooms & Encounters: The Fungal Corridor
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Creator Reply:
This product has been revised and updated. Thanks!
Rooms & Encounters: The Crypt of the Plague-Bringers
Publisher: 0one Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/28/2006 00:00:00

This 10 page PDF (13 with OGL declaration & Credits, Front & Back covers) presents a single ?room? encounter from the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure module series, available from 0one games (A self-confessed nigh-endless dungeon full of innumerable monsters. why? no one knows.). The Crypt of the Plague-Bringers, Room 40 of level 1, is presented in this PDF. However, it can easily be adapted for use in other adventures by the GM.

The PDF itself includes some introductory text explaining the ?Rule the Dungeon? features of the document, which I?ll cover in the next paragraph, a brief history of the Dungeon under the Mountain of which this ?room? is part, a bit of history on the ?Plague-Bringers? that make up the encounter, a room description, followed by a section detailing the ?Plague-Bringers? and the traps & puzzles associated with the sarcophagi in which they are entombed, as well as descriptions, stat-blocks & play info for each. Finally, a GM?s map and two page battle map is included. The map isn?t very interesting as the room is basically a long hall-like room featuring the 10 sarcophagi overlooked by a large Vrusk statue, entered via a trap-door in the eastern corner.

The room, trap/puzzle, & encounter information?s utility is greatly increased by the ?Rule the Dungeon? feature of the PDF. Taking advantage of the layer feature of PDFs, a GM can scale the encounter to be low, mid, or high level, which makes the encounters roughly CR3, CR 8, and CR 15 respectively. By selecting which level of challenge they want from a drop down list accessed via the ?Rule the Dungeon? button image, the encounter stats automatically change to scale to that level. This feature can be used on the encounter as a whole using the ?master Rule the Dungeon? button, or on individual elements, such as traps/puzzles, skill checks, and monsters, using the small ?Rule the Dungeon? buttons by each section. This is great feature which really increases the value of the product, making it more attractive for GM?s not using the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure. As in other 0one products, the map features on the GM Map & battle map can be individually toggled on or off as well, further increasing the usefulness of the product for GMs. Finally, there is a notes page in which the GM can record his own notes for the adventure, notes that will be saved with the PDF and thus can be reloaded and reprinted with ease.

As stated the room consists of 10 sarcophagi, 8 of which are currently occupied, as two of the occupants died after the temporal stasis spell keeping them preserved failed. Each sarcophagus has some sort of inscription hinting at how it can be opened, most of which require some sort of activating agent to be present, though on some there are locks that can be picked. This provides a bit of puzzle solving for the PC?s. One of the sarcophagi, holding Rzundar, Bringer of Undeath, an undead Wight sorcerer opens as soon as the PC?s enter the room.

All of the ?Plague-Bringers? are rather flavorful and unique opponents, including three awakened skeletons, two wights, two undead dwarves, and a crazy half-fiend gibbering mouther, Ildolgoggla, Bringer of Madness. The high level versions of the ?Plague-Bringers? are quite formidable, it should be noted that the CR 15 version of Ildolgoggla is illegal, as Gibbering Mouthers can only be advanced via Hit Dice, not with class levels, such as the 9 fighter levels used to advance Ildolgoggla. However, GM?s can assume the god that raised him up as one of his minions was able to break the rules, being a god and all.

The PDF is laid out in 3 columns, using a blue font for section headings, bold fonts in black for text headings, with a nice readable serif font for the body. Each page also features a nice page header with the title of the product. There are various bits of pencil sketch style ?filler? art within the document, which are used dynamically to fill in empty text created when the ?Rule the Dungeon? features are used, all of which is decent. Overall the layout is clean and readable, and adjusts to the dynamic features of the text without problems.

Overall this is a pretty good product that even GM?s without the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure can find useful, even if they don?t use the ?tomb? in which they are found. The ?Plague-Bringers? all are flavorful villains which can provide more story hooks with their back-story as well. The use of the layer feature puts this product a cut above the offerings of other publishers, and makes it useful for GM?s who don?t have the adventure on which it is based. So if you have the The Dungeon under the Mountain adventure this is a definite buy. If you don?t have the adventure, but are looking for a collection of flavorful, unique monsters with some interesting story hooks to spring on your players, and an interesting place to make their lair, this would be a good purchase as well.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Ildolgoggla is creepy. Rule the Dungeon feature rules. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Some grammar mistakes here and there, room itself is kind of boring, illegal monster stats. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Rooms & Encounters: The Crypt of the Plague-Bringers
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Spell Glutton's Sampler, Vol.3
Publisher: Dark Quest Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2006 00:00:00

This 6 page PDF (plus 1 page of OGL declarations) provides a selection of 16 spells mostly sorcerer/wizard spells ranging from level 0 (cantrips) to level 3. Several of the spells are also usable by bards and clerics. It opens with a small bit of flavor text by a spell-book thief, one Randwilfe the Greedy, Expert Rogue-Mage.

Though there are 16 spells, many of them are variations of a particular type however, such as Actor?s Bliss & Actor?s Delight, and an affliction version, Actor?s Dilemma. Then there are the Arcanic & Dismal Headache spells, as well as the most powerful version, Mortifying Migraine. There are also three Prismatic attack spells (Streak, Spiral, & Stream). So the actual number of distinct spells is only 11, or 10, depending on how you count the aroma cantrips.

The Actor?s spells provide a bonus to Performance (Act), or penalty in case of Dilemma, The Headache/Migraine spells provide the target with a penalty to concentration and ?mental? ability checks. The Prismatic spells provide a ranged attack of various strengths and ranges. The other spells include various illusions mostly, one that fill an area with an aroma, change the color of a cat, or the very specific Ogre Groggy, which makes a single Ogre unable to attack during it?s duration.

The PDF itself is laid out in a two column format with a nice border featuring various wizardly items and symbols and a page number footer using a runic font for the numbers and another line of wizardly items. There is no individual artwork other than the page borders.

Overall, this PDF has a number of issues that keep me from recommending it. First, in the spell descriptions, the type of Saving Throw against the spell is listed, however, whether it negates, or halves it, is not specified, and is not explained in the text that I saw. In the case of Carmelize Flesh, a rather goofy spell that turns part of victims flesh to hot, gooey caramel, it is listed as having a duration of 1d6+4 hours, yet it is an attack spell causing 2d6 damage, and thus presumably instantaneous. It is resisted by a Fortitude save, the spell description informs us, but whether a successful save negates the attack, or merely halves the damage isn?t specified. Further, the duration listed doesn?t indicate if it refers to the caramel effect, whether it can be healed, or if it is treated as disintegration, or even tastes good.

In addition to the lack of vital spell information, the text is riddled with grammatical errors and the occasional missing word, which is rather sad given that the text is only 6 pages, and much of that spell description tables. Errors include numerous misused homonyms, such as the use of poured (sic) for pored, or sales for sells. Then there is the overuse of the word dubious, which borders on the dubious. In addition many of the sentences feature strained or outright incorrect use of words and tortured grammar, such as this gem.

?A much needed spell by poor, tattered talent troupes, starving theatres, and destitute drama houses, the house bard or wizard is often employed to stand behind the stage curtain and cast this silent, invisible spell as needed.?

Is it just me or is there a sentence that got ran over and died in that run-on?

It?s not all bad, however, the Prismatic attack spells and the Headache spells are worthwhile and likely to be used by most players, and Ogre Groggy is a flavorful and potentially useful little cantrip. But, until the spell descriptions are revised to include all of the saving throw information, and the rather dubious editing is addressed, this would be a dubious purchase. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Prismatic attack spells, Headache spells, Ogre Groggy, Title of Illusionary Appearance spells. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: God-awful editing, missing spell information, Carmelize Flesh (Shouldn?t that be Caramelize Flesh?).<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Disappointing<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Disappointed<br>



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Spell Glutton's Sampler, Vol.3
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Character Theme: Alchemist (3.5)
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/20/2006 00:00:00

This four page PDF (actually 6, 2 of which are OGL license and declarations) details the Alchemist Subclass. A subclass is, as its name implies, a character class that doesn?t provide the abilities of a full class. Rather, they provide a specific set of abilities that in themselves don?t qualify as a full class, and aren?t specific enough to count as a Prestige Class. Think of them as specific character shticks a character can develop.

You obtain a Subclass by leveling; however, those levels don?t add to the character?s level or add a Hit Die. Instead, they are paid for via an experience penalty similar to Multi-classing. This product introduces the idea of favored sub-classes. A character taking a favored subclass only suffers an experience point penalty of 10%, instead of the normal 20%. Gnomes are listed as having the Alchemist subclass as a favored sub-class. Subclass levels appear to be counted as 1/4th of a normal character class level. A character?s Subclass level can never exceed his normal class levels. Because the experience point penalties for sub-classing and Multi-Classing stack, for a whopping 40%, it is not recommended a character both take on a sub-class and multi-class. Additionally, a character can only choose one sub-class; there is no ?multi sub-classing?.

The Alchemist subclass, as its name suggest, is focused on the creation of potions. The subclass has access to an enhanced version of the Brew Potion feat as a class feature. This enhanced version allows access to all of the spells from all spell lists when determining when making potions. He is still limited to the normal strictures regarding what type of spells may be made into potions, as for the normal version of the Brew Potion feat. In addition, starting a 5th level, and for every 3rd level after that, he gains the ability to create potions based on higher level spells, starting with 4th lvel spells at 5th level in the subclass, and 9th level spells at 20th level.

In addition, at 6th level he gains a Modify Metals feat, which allows him to transform an item into a masterwork item if that feature is available to it, as well as being able to add +1 damage bonus to slashing and piercing weapons. This ability does not work on magic weapons. Finally, at 20th level, he gains the legendary Transmute Metal feat, allowing him to transmute five times the gold piece value of lead or iron into gold, at the cost of materials equal to half the value of the gold created.

The PDF also includes a new magic item, the Ciphered Molcajete, which offers a +5 bonus to craft (alchemy) checks when making potions using it. There is also a brief blurb on alchemy in the real world, and details on alchemists in the Hill Lands setting.

The PDF is nicely laid out in a two-column format with an ornate decorative border and a wax-seal like decoration for the page number. It features one piece of artwork, a water-color style picture of an alchemist at work in medieval craftsman?s garb, it is of good quality.

Overall, this class seems to be of limited general appeal, as the abilities it grants don?t seem to be worth the extra cost, compared to simply taking the regular Brew Potion feat. I see it being of general interest only to players playing Gnomes, for whom it is a favored class, and thus only costs a 10% experience penalty. Thus I only recommend it to GM?s interested in making Alchemist NPCs or players playing Gnomes. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Modify Metals, Transmute Metals Feat. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Limited value of subclass compared to already available Brew Potion feat. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Character Theme: Alchemist (3.5)
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Character Theme: Crusader (3.5)
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2006 00:00:00

RPGNow.com Crusader Subclass APG0014

This 4 (6) page PDF details the Crusader Subclass. The subclass is, as its name implies, a character class that doesn?t provide the abilities of a full class. Rather, they provide a specific set of abilities that in themselves don?t qualify as a full class, and aren?t specific enough to count as a Prestige Class. Think of them as specific character shticks a character can develop.

You obtain a Subclass by leveling; however, those levels don?t add to the character?s level or add a Hit Die. Instead, they are paid for via an experience penalty similar to Multi-classing. Subclass levels appear to be counted as 1/4th of a normal character class level. A character?s Subclass level can never exceed his normal class levels. Because the experience point penalties for sub-classing and Multi-Classing stack, for a whopping 40%, it is not recommended a character both take on a sub-class and multi-class. Additionally, a character can only choose one sub-class; there is no ?multi sub-classing?.

The Crusader subclass is defined by his focus on fighting against infidels in foreign lands, the main advantage of the sub-class is the Religious Fury feat, first gained at 4th level. This provides the character with a bonus equal to his charisma modifier to attack and damage rolls against enemies who do not follow his religion or deity. It also allows him to make a full move and still attack; he is considered flat-footed while he does so however. He gains an additional use of this ability at the 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th levels of the subclass. He also gains the Weapon Focus feat with his deities preferred weapon as part of his Servant of War feat, gained at first level. At 2nd level he gains the Divine Grace feat, providing him a bonus to all of his saving throws equal to his charisma modifier. Additionally, he gains a +1 to his BAB at level 4, as well as moderate bonuses to his Saving Throws starting at level 6.

The PDF also includes two new spells. First is ?Healing the Faithful? which heals 10 points of damage to characters of the same faith as the Crusader. Second is Crusader?s Feast, which works like Heroes Feast for 1 humanoid of the same faith/level as the Crusader. A new type of magic weapon special ability, called Crusader, is included. A weapon with the Crusader special ability automatically does critical hits against opponents not of the wielder?s faith. Keen Weapons and Vorpal weapons can not have this ability as well however. Finally, there is a text-box with a brief description of Crusaders and the Crusades in history, and a brief description of Crusaders in the Hill Lands setting.

The PDF is nicely laid out in a two-column format with an ornate decorative border and a wax-seal like decoration for the page number. There is one piece of artwork, a picture of a Crusader character in the rain, it looks pretty good.

Overall the Crusader sub-class is solid and distinctive sub-class option, and also serves as a good campaign focus for character?s who take that route, or an interesting back-story for a character that went on a Crusade. The abilities provided are not unbalancing, and are thematically charged. Thus I recommend this class to player?s wanting to add some religious conflict themes to their campaign, and character?s who gain abilities from their militant religious fervor. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Religious Fury feat<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Not appropriate to all campaigns due to issues involved in character type.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Character Theme: Crusader (3.5)
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StarCluster 2 - Smilin' Jack's Used Spaceships
Publisher: Better Mousetrap Games
by Rob M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/31/2005 00:00:00

This 11 page PDF provides 4 unique spaceships, along with full stats, back-story, and costs, which a group of players might acquire, wrapped in the flavor text of one used space ship dealer, Smilin? Jack. It also provides a short section on financing, and how acquiring the ship or dealing with finances can form part of an ongoing campaign or sub-plot.

The ships are The Split Hare, The Mohegan, The Dorylina, and the Felicia Miller. The Split Hare is a lightly armed, saucer shaped, 85 ton, Jump Capable ?Yacht? with a few technical problems that can inconvenience the characters. The Mohegan is an unarmed, saucer shaped, Jump Capable, 100 Ton ?Cruise? Ship, i.e. a commercial passenger craft, capable of accommodating 12 passengers, which was the site of a nasty bit of business which lead to its being for sale. The Dorylina is a winged, Jump Capable, well armed, 50 Ton ?Courier? ship, capable of carrying a small amount of cargo and presumably capable of atmospheric flight. The Felicia Miller is a large, modular, 250 ton, Jump Capable Cargo Hauler incapable of atmospheric landing. It includes a 50 ton lighter that can be used to ferry cargo too and from the surface.

The ships are varied and interesting and could serve as a flavorful focus for a starship crew-based campaign, as the ship is an important character in space-based series. The story of how a crew came together and acquired their ship is an important back-story element, or can make for a good initial, or ?flash-back? adventure. The flavor text is ok, though no stats are provided for Smilin? Jack should the players find him utterly annoying and decided to kill him. Prices are included for each ship, and the discussion of finances and how it can shape the flavor of the campaign are good.

The PDF itself is laid out in a single column with a simple readable font for body text, and NASA style futuristic text used for section headings and stats. Unfortunately the ship diagrams are kind of hard to read, the text for the Split Hare being unreadable, and thus useless, on the others and a hollow outlined font is used and it also makes for hard reading. Luckily the stat block and other texts are easy to read. There is no other interior art, the cover art are a couple of character pieces and ship illos in the ?trademark? water-colorized Starcluster style.

This is a decent supplement with some flavorful ship write-ups for a GM to use as a central character in a crew-based game, or as encounters in a space based game as well. So, for GM?s looking for ideas for some ships to use, it is a worthwhile buy.

<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Nice variety of ships with flavorful back-story, campaign advice.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Ship diagrams range from unreadable to hard to read, no stats for Smilin jack, and flavor text could annoy some people. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
StarCluster 2 - Smilin' Jack's Used Spaceships
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