This is a fabulous product. If you've been cutting broom straw into itty-bitty pieces, and trying to paint or dye carpet fibre to look like a hay bale, pick up some GF9 'Parched Straw.' You will be amazed at how realistic it looks.
3.5 stars as a Children's Book; 1 star as a book for the rest of us
This book is obviously aimed at kids, probably 6-11. As a children's book, great job, not unreasonably priced when compared to other children's HCs, and actually an enjoyable book. As a book for us gamers? Not so great; not even a full star, much less one. There's nothing I or any adult I will ever game with can get out of this book. All the art is rehashed from other books and magazines; there's no crunch; there's really no fluff; and most of the book is a catalog-like nostalgic look at old modules and Expedition HCs. Your young kids will probably love it; and if you want to lightly introduce your kids to D&D, this is not a bad start. Otherwise, pick up a Pathfinder product.
The art throughout the book is a combination of traditional art, with some very nice watercolors, and computer art. There are some nice new magic items and spells introduced, shell magic (it’s a costal setting) and lots of item magic centered around the idea that many normal items carry a latent magical signature from Before the Fall that must be “awoken” by the user. Also included are a few new monsters, some are pretty cool, like the Sharae, humans twisted by magic during the Fall, similar to Deep Ones. Tangleclaws are super-creepy spiderlike aberrations, but they don’t seem to have any purpose in life, despite their high intelligence. There are some really exciting locations, like the Haunthills Portals, and the idea that adventurers travel to the Mourna via estemels or magical gateways; the trick is getting back to whence you came, as the gates are one way! One of the best aspects of this book is how NPCs are written up: they get a basic stat block (Uldrinath Sedmond, NE Male Human Cleric 12 of Haelarr CR12) followed by an amazingly interesting and detailed description and a large, character-rich portrait. There’s a great, detailed and long timeline in the back of the book, very interesting reading. And, best of all, there’s a large fold-out map in the back that you don’t have to tear out. The setting is large, but all coastal, and could be dropped into any un- or under-explored area in your setting. All-in-all, worth the money and time.
Initially, I was skeptical that these cards were worth the expense versus anticipated use, then I received an 11-card pack. The GameMastery Item Cards aren't a game, rather they're a game aid---I'm not talking about the Three-Dragon Ante type of game aid, (an actual, playable game that stands alone or can be used as a part of an adventure)--no, these cards are physical, graphic representations of actual items acquired throughout an adventure. Take the 'Ring' card, for example: one side shows the artist’s representation of a simple ring, the opposite side gives a very brief description of the ring, and best of all, includes a small blank space for DM or Player notes regarding the item! I use this space to annotate my group's code system. In the case of the ring card, I've placed a small piece of transparent tape over the blank space and written in alcohol pen 'R14b', which allows my group to cross-reference our campaign journal for a more thorough description of that particular find. These cards allow the DM to give the player distinctive representations of special items gained. There’s no wheedling months down the road when the sorcerer declares he has a ring of giant strength +2—he either has his item card or he doesn’t. Additionally, it’s a great way to manage loss of items-- just take up the item card when the scroll is used up or the sword is swallowed by the purple worm. Suggestions: 1) Use a pencil on the blank spaces or a thumb of transparent tape, then write in with an alcohol pen; it’s a small space, so codes work better than paragraphs. 2) You may not want to use a card until you have duplicates—duplicates are a good way of sight-management, as whatever you give a player, you have a like-copy in your books, which helps when the player loses the card or claims to have something you didn’t give him…
This is absolutely the most hilariously fun Lovecraftian item I own; a great addition to any Mythos fan's arsenal of insane Carcosan-R'lyehan goodness. Stands about eight inches, made of tough, heavy vinyl. Includes two extremely cute victims. Makes for an...interesting...surprise during the boss battle in a campaign. Demogorgon defeated? PCs think they won? Suddenly, Paizo-Cthulhu appears and gates in some friends for lunch...Well worth the money.
While I don't allow dragonriders in my games, this is an outstanding miniature. The Dragon Magazine Limited Edition version is a repaint, adding yellow-green undertone to the proximal wings, and a matching tint to the throat and belly scales, and tongue and claws. The sorcerer is dressed in a green and gold design. Includes an Epic Level stat card worth 200 points; CR 14. An outstanding deal for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike.
A pretty 'hot' product; Hellacious Fun in a Fantastic Location
This is a premium product from Wizards, again showcasing some of the major talent in design today. The packaging is great: shrinkwrapped, with an outer cardstock cover, great cover art by Francis Tsai; interior cardstock is a color repro of the four miniatures maps included in the module. As alluded to, the module also includes four full-color maps of Hellspike, printed on bonded, heavy gloss paper. These look good, and are great for use with miniatures and as a imagination booster. The text of the product is well-written, informative and interesting to read, with great, atmospheric B&W interior illustrations that borrow from the surrounding text (not just cool art that has nothng to do with the story, as in some old TSR works). A great bonus is a collection of encounters that can easily and creatively be combined by a DM into a short adventure; the encounters are designed for 9th Level PCs, but a good DM can adjust to allow for lower-level players. The text is a short 16 pages, but the maps are worth the additional four dollars (over a typical module cost of around ten bucks). I bought this at a hobby shop at 10% off; but it's discounted the same here at Paizo. All told, a fun product. To run this accessory/module you must have a Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide. Players DON'T need to buy this, or similar products; let your DMs buy these things, and you'll enjoy the surprise of new discovery as you play in a 'Fantastic Location!' Only drawback--not enough encounters. The Monster Manuals are pretty cool, but with some imagination you can make your own monsters, or download some cool critters free off the internet. There are a few Hellspike-specific monsters included in this product, but not enough to really play an adventure.