Kech Hunter

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5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

Every now and then a product comes along that is utterly so hilarious that one can not help but instantly find themselves drawn in. Gingerbread Kaiju from Rogue Genius Games is one such product. Billed as an edible board game (yes, you just read that) this self contained game requires the usage of a deck of standard playing cards, some markers (preferably with candies), and of course the cookies themselves. But we’ll get to those devour-able game pieces in a few minutes, let’s talk about the game play itself first, shall we?

Kaiju craze has come into its own, with a love for the genre generating a resurgence in the classic giant creature destruction tale. With video games and big budget movies jumping on board to fuel our love of some major monster devastation, not to mention the already impressive body of classic kaiju film material in existence, it was only a matter of time before the genre was taken to a new level, as only the Geniuses could. Laying out a “board” representing the wards, or neighborhoods, of Tokyo with 20 of the cards from a standard deck into a simple 4x5 grid the players prepare to lay waste to this famous of so many kaiju battles throughout history. Populated with both real world areas as well as fictional locations, the cards represent the areas the kaiju will travel through and interact with as they both battle with each other and destroy the locations around them. The remaining cards make up the resource deck, usable by the players with various different effects depending upon the cards drawn. Everything from getting a bonus to damage from using a battleship to strike a foe to a nuke attack. The game stays tongue in cheek and light hearted with a easy set of rules presented here with two lists for the different card decks and their effects, as well as a list of abilities for the kaiju, their special attacks, and a player’s actions available each turn. The game is easy enough that within a matter of 30 minutes to an hour you could fully understand and be playing.

So, there is the basics right? So let’s get to why this is so much more than just a cool and easy game. The kaiju are FREAKING COOKIES!!!! 8 kaiju are presented here in this guide, with templates for each to be used to make your own cookie cutters (kids, find an adult, then tech them to play also). The kaiju all invoke the art of Stan! But that should be to assume, as he illustrated and gave this game its look (which is awesome by the way). The game blatantly states the longest part of setting up for this game is the baking, heck the PDF even gives up 3 ½ pages to the baking between the templates and the recipe. Personally, I would have it no other way. The game is perfect for playing with your friends and taking the steps to design the individual kaiju, planning an afternoon with your kids to bake a batch or two of monsters to let them loose on some cookie carnage. Seriously, a game that is completely tied around the concept of allowing so much interaction and playability from the idea of putting out a plate of cookies…how can you not want this in your world? Adding a bag of Skittles or M&Ms to represent people, and perhaps some wafer cookies to be used as buildings and boom, your in the game folks. Now, before anyone screams about all the sugar, these are suggestions, you can easily use celery for the buildings, perhaps raisins for people, or grapes or equipment and such…the point is, the markers can be anything. The game mechanics are solid enough to be a real game, the fact that it is represented along with the idea of using cookies is just a cool bonus…a very cool bonus, lol.

Now, being as how this is a review, let’s make sure we have covered everything. All art here is from the hand of Stan!, the PDF is laid out in a dual column format, the editing is top notch, and the recipe appears to be solid. I have already made plans to get together with my partner in crime when it comes to baking to make up some batches of Kaiju for friends for the holidays, as this game strikes me as one that would make a great way to get friends and family to slow down and have fun, across the generational gaps of age. I can easily see this being the type of product that sees the Geniuses adding a Kaiju to the game or two in expansion products, if not even going so far as talking Stan! into designing a full deck of cards to make available through either the POD options over at RPGNow or just by PDF.

An excellent enjoyable game, and one I can see bringing many hours to a gametable. More than happy to recommend this game for a full 5 stars, and well worth the price of admission folks! Very well done Geniuses, very well done indeed.


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5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

Wilderness Dressing: Swamps from Raging Swan Press weighs in at 13 pages, with a total of 6 pages of charts and material outside of forwards, TOC, checklist of products available and etc. Fully bookmarked, as well as the TOC linked (always makes me smile) with the typical sparse artwork within the books of this series. For those not aware, the Dressing: series is hands down one of the most useful pdf series I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. Each entire in the series covers one theme, and presents it with a couple of random d100 tables offering fast and easy descriptive tidbits for fleshing out a GMs locations. Take for instance the following taken from this product:

Minor Events D% - 5 The party comes across a wild pig stuck in a patch of quicksand. The pig is partially submerged and exhausted from its struggles.

Minor Events D% - 79 The distant boom of thunder rolls over the party, but the sky does not look stormy.

Or, moving on to the second list of options, also a D100 list:

Swamp Dressing D% - 17 The bleached, mouldering bones of some long dead animal lie partially buried in the mire.

Swamp Dressing D% - 41 A skull decorated with bird feathers hangs from a tree branch. A DC 15 knowledge (local) check reveals this to be a Deep Mire tribal marker.

Fairly basic, right? Yes, you could do this yourself, not doubt….but wouldn’t you prefer to spend your time gaming? That’s where these products excel, giving you the tools easily to use tools like this either for planning or gaming on the fly, all with the intent to bring to the table a better feel for description and immersion in your game.

And for an extra perk, how about a full page of random encounters, arranged on a D12 table just waiting for you to roll the fate of your players. Add to that a sheet detailing the effects of several common marsh features (quicksand, bogs, undergrowth etc.) putting at your fingertips the specifics for the game mechanics for these features. You know, continuing to make this product a solid useful addition to you toolbox.

So, following a dual column approach, editing solid (which is the typical from Raging Swan) and yet another book filled with solid useful material, I am stamping this one with a 5 stars and declaring it worth worth the cost of admission.


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4/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

100% Crunch: Orogs from Raging Swan continues this well done series with another collection of stat-blocks ready to go for the GM to make populating their toolbox a faster process. 27 stat-blocks are here presented all for the hybrid orgre-orcs known as Orogs. Formatting follows the standard format of a dual column approach for standard text, and the Pathfinder standard for the stat-blocks themselves. Editing appears to be good and solid. My actual complaint falls in with the layout decisions for the flow of the stat-block entries one into each other, or rather for the odd spacing from time to time between stat-blocks.

The CRs are collected together within the PDF to make them easier to view when scanning the book, as well as them being alphabetized in each CR section. Now, anyone who is familiar with these titles in this series should by this point fully aware of what these books are, but for those unaware, let’s cover the concept here, shall we? Julian Neale essentially creates for these collections a stack of NPCs all based on one race, with a grab bag of classes/templates/archetypes. Some of the books in this series have done very well in regards to the cool builds (like the ones for skeletons, liches or zombies…he really explored the idea of various racial options with those builds), but here I am seeing an extreme limitation in that without fluff, and the orog offering itself as a race to a strict concept for expectations..

The collection here succeeds in providing a solid collection of orogs, I just felt like I wanted to see more than so many fighter builds (including the cavaliers I count 9 that are fighters in one form or another, or 27). Now that is not to say that there is variety here, as there is the Dire Wereboar Ranger, Rogue, Bard, Monks (hungry ghost, qinggong), Wizards, Advanced and Cleric builds…..ah, perhaps I have seen far too many classes at this point, I find myself wanting to see them all used. But to see a Gunslinger, or Samurai, perhaps an Alchemist or two (ponder as orog alchemist for a minute, lol). No, again, what is here works, but it leaves the entirety of the collection not feeling as inspiring as some of the other entries to this series.

In the end I am going to have to go with a 3.5 star (rounded to a 4 for the purposes of this rating system), as what is here is mechanically sound and good, but I was left feeling that there was a great deal of room left unexplored here.


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5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.
Originally posted to http://thoughtswithbrokendice.tumblr.com/

Convergent Paths Fey Archetypes weighs in at 16 pages (2 ads, the OGL, cover and credits) with 11 presenting us with new material. Three new archetypes connected to the fey, along with a new monster and a handful of feats are introduced here. Format follows the standard dual column layout, with several pieces of artwork interspersed throughout the book, with several of them being very good pieces.

Opening this with the Faerie Knight (Cavalier), a knight in allegiance and loyalty to a fey or full court of fey. The write up for this archetype made for a great read, as it is presented in the form of a conversation between a knight named Tristan, his mount Meliodas and the writer of this journal, the interaction between the knight an his mount are hilarious. So, what makes this cavalier worth playing right? Well, to be honest, the mount. The mount adds the template for a few creature, with a series of progressive abilities, that make this far more than just a simple means of getting around. When connected the rider and mount can cast a small list of spells (dancing lights, faerie fire, etc.), with the mount being the anchor for the caster numbers and such, along with any concentration checks required, freeing the knight to keep their attention on other things. The mount also gains the ability to be sent into the realm of faerie seeking aid for its rider, bringing the aid as in a successful summon nature’s ally V. Not to mention that being a loyal subject to the faerie the knight works for offers them a level of respect when dealing with fey, as much as one can hope for those chaotic interactions to go well, lol.

Second to the party here would be the Laughing Man (Monk). This archetype presents the first editing hiccups, but they are simply text line justifications (those weird spacing blanks that happen in a justified column of text). There are only a few of them, and they truly don’t affect the product enough to be more than a minor distraction, in other words, I am mentioning them more so that when you read through this book for yourself you don’t find them and wonder what the heck, lol. So, moving on…the Laughing Man offers up an interesting archetype that has taken the concept of words hurt to a whole new level. Short story breaks down to this monk can weaponize his words through a combination of skills and abilities, choosing to do damage as per sonic attacks with their spoken words. I can see a lot of potential here for a very cool character or two, but would require a player willing to make the character worth it in combat. Well worth the effort I believe though.

It takes us to the Masquerade Reveler (Barbarian). One of the most alien thing on dealing with the fey and faerie in general are that our perceptions as humanity, or the mortal world, are constantly shifted and skewed due to their nature. They have the capacity as fey to alter their looks and hide behind various masks and forms, leaving us wondering who and what it is we are dealing with. This archetype seeks to perhaps bridge that, in the form of one who has been touched by the realm of faerie and came back not entirely whole, but far from broken either. The easiest way to shorten this is to say that the Reveler operates at their own eidolon. A rather specific eidolon, but none the less. Using this ability they gain the ability to mask themselves much as the fey can, fueling this ability with the standard rage of a barbarian…yeah, let that stew for a minute. A very cool concept of what one can do with a barbarian outside of the typical “Thunk! Kill!”.

Seven new feats are presented, with perks for the mentioned archetypes, with two feats for the Faerie Knight and the Masquerade Reveler, and three for the Laughing Man. The Gancanagh closes us out this time, as a new fey monster. Appearing as an extremely attractive individual, with all the charm required to seduce anyone who catches this fey’s attention, it tends to keep the deck stacked in its favor with an excretion from its skin that is addictive (known as Gancanagh’s Kiss presented after the monster entry). Add to this its Mindbender and Sweet Nothings ability this fey will keep a mortal entranced for hours conversing for its entertainment. Not exactly a malicious creature by intention, but the extremely different skew the fey place on the mortal world makes any interaction with a creature with the ability to force anything to entertain it for fun runs the risk of ending bad. Supplied with hooks and a sidebar detailing some of the real world mythology for this fey.

So, checking over the score sheet here, the one thing that stood out was only truly the justified lines, which I am not going to hold against this product. The archetypes all bring to the table their own flavor, with suitable dressings of that taste of fey influenced to them. Looking for some fey affected archetypes this product does a very good job, and would be a worthy purchase at five stars.


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5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

Starting with the incredible cover piece from Henry Toogood 20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons demands to paid attention to. Far to often a list of this type ends up a simple rehash of boring numbers, with not truly enough to make the collection worth the effort. Elaine Betts and Justin P. Sluder present here 20 NPCs in the form of Red Dragons that are far more than just the standard big egotistical lizard. They seek to give you characters for your campaigns that will live in the memories of your players for years, earning the right to become reoccurring villains, possibly even allies if presented properly.

Format is presented in the well known dual column approach, with artwork interspersed throughout the book, varying from truly WOW worthy to decent, with only one piece kind of feeling out of place. Now, there are several pieces in an index at the end of the book dealing with templates that include examples of the templates that are not draconic in nature, so they come off as slightly jarring at first due to the entirety of the remainder of the book being all draconic goodness, but the art pieces here all make sense, and are logical and good pieces. When it comes to the specifics of the statblocks, anyone who knows me and my style of reviewing should by now know that I tend to forgive the occasional slip in statblocks, as any GM worth their salt should be able to adjust the occasional errors. That being said, occasional is the important word in their. The very first dragon presented in this book, a very cool build and character concept, is Seer Hekkush, the Undying Oracle of Ash CR 30. He is an (ready for this?) accelerated bipedal dread mummy undead lord very young red dragon diviner 11/loremaster 10. Get all that? In case you are scratching your nogging right now wondering what half of those templates are, have no fear, as they are all covered in an index at the end of the book (included with several other templates as well), Why am I showing off this mouthful of words making up this character’s list of awesomeness? Because of the fact he is listed as a very young, when the character is presented as extremely old, has a freaking CR 30 and is a freaking mummy…he uses his sarcophagus as armor, there is nothing about the write up or abilities of this dragon that feels like a very young dragon. Having said all of that, I have no doubt that someone could run the numbers fairly quickly and deduce the proper age for this beast, but for the purposes of this review, I am not feeling like doing such at this time, What I will say is that the character is not tarnished by this oddity in the aging, the concept for the character made me want to include him as that venerable beast so past the point of what a playgroup could ever take on with ease. Those beasts that almost instantly force your players to respect them as the forces of nature that dragons are, as opposed to yet another disposable piles of XP and GP.. Now, here was a character that was designed to make you think, both as the GM running it as well as the player navigating interaction with a character living on this level of power.

No, I am not going to go through more than a handful of these dragons, nor am I planning to simply run through them presented in order in the book, but the very second I came to stopped me instantly. The Foul Doctor Feulzik CR 28, mythic rune-carved savant great wyrm red dragon. Reading over his “bio” intro there was the feel of a bit of the benefactor in this, living amongst a peoples while looking over them, caring for their illnesses and poor. Of course, that is until someone goes missing to be used for whatever experiment the good doctor is currently up to. It stands to be brought up at this point that there are two specific “voices” to each entry for the individual dragons, the first of the dragon itself, as well as that of the chronicler compiling this tome to be dispersed amongst the lands to better share the tales of these mighty creatures. So, you receive the “selling” pitch from the dragon as to who they are, and the comments and observations from the writer of this journal. It is from him we learn that the good doctor is dabbling in Fleshgrafting. Experimenting on those he has taken to perfect methods before adding the Troll’s Gland fleshgraft to himself. Yes, it is one of many things in a long list of things (he is a dragon after all), but the idea of seeing fleshgrafting brought to usage brought a smile to my face.

The Lord of Fangs CR 24, a freaking ninja….yeah, you read that, lol. Arkaz and Zakra, The Twins CR21…a two headed old red, with a very distinct set of two personalities in those heads of hers. Qux-Nurgesh, Man-Eater, the pygmy….lol…oh man, a pygmy dragon….love it!!!!! However, this dragon handed me the first true area of poor editing, a typo and duplication of a word. Not the worst mistake I have ever seen, but it is there. Tindertwig, a wyrmling rogue, taught by her father to function as a rogue amongst the human world she will have to deal with as well as simply being a dragon. Fell in love with her instantly, as will be introducing her into my campaign world very shortly.

Juerix the Lame CR10 just might be one of the oddest dragon concepts I have ever come across, and mainly for the sheer uniqueness of his circumstances. His egg was broken before he should have hatched, and was felt in the cold away from the warmth needed for the development of a young dragon. When discovered by his mother she intended to eat him as a loss for being flawed and lame but he bite her nose on his way to the maw sending him to his death. A mother’s love after all, and she allowed him to live within her lair, much as a mother with a child who will never fully mentally develop might never leave her home. Yeah, getting this now? He’s not the brightest crayon in the box, along with being physically diminished and wingless, but there is still a great deal of cool personality that makes him excellent for encounters. Am very impressed with the delicateness of handling the idea of a dragon birth with birth defects, this could have been a train wreck offending people easily, but came off instead as a character you can’t help but like, instantly. Well done, well done indeed.

Sparky the Chaos-Touched, and insane dragon….how can you not want to roleplay this???? I mean, seriously????? An INSANE DRAGON!!!!! I think I shall simply allow him to speak for himself, and I quote

"Fire so pretty. Sparky like fire. Sparky like pretty things. Pretty things burn. Then Sparky sad. Sparky hatch in fire. Pretty, pretty fire. Fire burn everything up, but not Sparky. Sparky swallow up the fire. Now it burns in Sparky’s head. Oh it burns! It burns, burns, burns…”

Like I said, how can you not want to unleash this on a playgroup when they need a night of being reminded that sometimes you are supposed to be having fun, lol.

The indexes bring us 7 templates (used throughout the book in the statblocks) as well as 11 feats (with one dealing with fleshgrafting that first appeared in the book #30 Fleshgrafts included here for the sake of those without the book). The spell Flesh Culture also appears here, previously from the #30 Fleshgrafts pdf as well. A simple and dirty breakdown for the rules for Domain Channeling from The Secrets of Divine Channeling/The Secrets of Adventuring are presented here closing out this pdf. Other of course for a few pages of ads and the OGL.

So, what have we got here, a couple of small hiccups in the editing, my personal opinion about the age of a dragon (which, to be true I could be wrong, it happens) and the rest pretty much all being win and confetti rainbows my friends. Yes, this collection will seriously increase your draconic population for your setting without requiring you to write up another handful of “Generic Dragon X” pages. As I stated at the beginning of this review, collections like this can easily end up a list of numbers and boring as watching water dry. Luckily, this is so far from that that this book ends up as one I highly recommend to any dragon loving fan of the mighty reptilian rulers of the food chain.

A well deserved 5 star rating, and well worth the cost of admission!


5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten written by Daniel J. Bishop is published by Purple Duck Games for the DCC RPG game system. 13 pages, with two pages taking care of the cover and OGL, leaving us with 11 pages of material. Presented in a dual column format, with nothing jumping out and screaming any editing issues, which is always a good thing. Artwork is handled by Gary Dupois and Michael Scotta, with the majority of the pieces being available from Purple Duck Games as stock art pieces. Being a fan of the art style of both of these artists, I was pleased to find their work included in this adventure, and am willing to bet that the art will meet with most people's approval as well.

Cartography is presented with a very old school feel, but I would expect nothing less from a product designed for the DCC RPG. Anything other would feel odd, lol.

The meat and bones here, as this is an adventure review after all, is that a keep lost to history houses the ghost of its previos occupant, one Sir Amoral. Finding himself haunting his former keep, and willing to pass on the collection of knowledge he feels has been wasted by not finding those worthy in life to share with while he could, he now tests those he feels might be worthy of his boon. This of course is where the problem comes in, as his tests are not the easiest of things. 7 skills await those characters that can survive and succeed at each of their trials, proving to the ghost that they are worthy of each of these skills.

Given that there are only seven challenges, and each one of them being addressed directly to one of the seven skills of Sir Amoral I'm going to avoid discussing the specifics, other than to say there with be one and one combat with a handful of creatures. One of the nice things about an encounter location like this, the ruined keep, is that this can easily be incorporated for usage that far exceeds the purposes of this adventure. And yes, the author agrees, going so far as to recommend several methods of using the material in other ways and concepts.

A well designed addition to a GM here, with a handful of interesting creatures and an inspiring location. For the group running DCC RPG this makes for an excellent addition to the game collection. A well deserved 5 star rating, with a lot of re-use ability.


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5/5

I was supplied with a reviewer's copy of this material, and I work with the publisher Adventureaweek.com. I have no professional attachment to Brian Engard, Steve Russell or Rite Publishing. I strive to keep my reviews unbiased, and presented from the voice of a fellow gamer.

The Demolished Ones, by Brian Engard, from Rite Publishing. The book weighs in at 94 pages, with an incredible cover from Hugo Solis. Interior art goes again to Mr. Solis's talented skills, gracing the feel of the art throughout this book. Following a dual column approach, with editing and formatting being of high caliber as come to be expected from Rite Publishing. Fully bookmarked (though not linked on the TOC page, although the TOC page is more intended for a printed concept than the bookmarks), with nested bookmarks throughout. So, that really covers the basics, doesn't it? The stuff that lets you what to expect in regards to the framework....so lets get to the fun stuff, shall we?

First off, and it has to be stated, right up front, I have never played a single game of Fate, ever. Before this book I had never even looked at the system. So how could my opinion of this product be worth anything right? Simple, the book taught me how to play. Yep, by the time I was done reading the intro to the storyline and drooling like a fanboy I was scouring through the pages teaching me in an extremely easy method to learn the basics of the system. Now, seriously, I learned a full system in a matter of a chapter within this book, OK, granted, there are always more things to learn about any system, but there is ENOUGH here to be able to play this storyline. And that is what matters. Turn sequence, character creation, character actions, and turn resolutions....all there. No, I am not going to get into how to play the system here in this review, that is not the intention of this review. Just well enough to say, this product handles, with ease, making sure than anyone could jump on board and enjoy this product.

And what exactly are we looking at here? What is the storyline the players are in store for? We can do this one of two ways, I can walk you through the story and ruins it for those sneaky players who troll for reviews. Or I can tell you what they can learn for themselves, without ruining the interwoven layered story. I'm going for option 2, trust me, it is worth to not give away anything to those looking to play this one.

The players awaken in a room, with no clue who they are, who the other people in the room with them are, and why there is a dead body. They have no memories of how they got there, if they are connected to each other, if they might be the responsible party for the body, or victims themselves. A phone call bringing a warning that the authorities are on the way puts everything into movement, and from there on the story is driven by the actions of the players as they piece together their fractured memories and lives. All is not as might appear for the players, as there are forces moving behind the scenes pulling strings to manipulate their lives and actions.

Hearkening to the feel and spirit of the distinct inspiration of the movie The Dark City this storyline brings forth the excellence of the neo-gothic feel of this movie. Working better described as a Victoriana Era piece perhaps, but feeling to my personal taste as very gothic. As well as the feel of the world being more below the surface than what can be “seen”. Whereas the game has an elite group of “adversaries” (known as The Masters) for the players character's to deal with within the setting for the storyline, the more direct Mr. Tock is everything you could ever hope for with a villain, and then some. Bringing to the table a bit of the classic concept of manipulating the world around him treating those involved at pieces on a chess board as he moves his “pawns” throughout the story, all the while attempting to better his own status amongst his peers.

Supported with a handful of excellent player handouts, from fliers with notes scrawled on them to torn articles from the local newspaper. I love the addition of these handouts, and really help to make sure that immersion into tho storyline is better for your players. And yes, it includes its own 1 page character sheet to make easier for players to manage their characters.

The world created here within this setting, within the city “under the dome” (spoilers, lol) does an excellent job of bringing to life several various locations throughout the city for the players to explore as they work their way through this storyline. And to that, it should be pointed out, that the storyline does a very good job of staying out of its own way, in that it is sandbox enough to allow for enough free roaming, while leading more then enough direct for purpose.

So, wrapping this up, using a scale of 1-5, with a 5 being the highest rating I can apply to this, I have no option but to give it a 6, flat out. I loved this product. There is so much Win here that it sold me, entirely. Not only does this product do an excellent job of teaching me a new game (handled with ease without making me feel like a noob), but delivering with a killer of a mystery for a twisted storyline. I can easily see this being used not just for a tabletop session with friends, but with the most minimal of effort to turn this into a live action evening with friends who have never roleplayed before, introducing this story much like a Murder Mystery Party night, over even a convention event.

This is an excellent storyline, and yes, I have gone out of the way to avoid referring to it as an adventure, as this feels more to me as a storyline. Shortly after reading through my review copy I jumped on the chance to get a print copy, adding to this to my shelf of personal favorites. And will more than likely be adding to this to my Top 10 list for the year of 2013 at the end of the year.

Well done Mr. Engard, well done indeed!


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4/5

I do layout work for an assortment of companies, with the largest body of work being with Adventureaweek.com. This product was provided for me for the purposes of doing this review. My associations with those working under the name of Super Genius Games are merely as a reviewer, fan and friend. I have no professional allegiance with them that would bias any review I might choose to post about any of their products. That being said, let's get on to it, shall we?

The Genius Guide to the Relics of the Godlings 2 PDF is a 17 page book, missing the bookmarks (yeah, that irritates me, lol). Format follows the standard look and feel of most of the SGG products, a 3 column landscape with a cover piece dominating 60% of the cover (and what a cool cover piece it is this time). The artwork, while not so much bad, does not seem to have a cohesion within this product for one specific feel for the pieces. Nothing there that is bad, just pointing it out. Editing and formatting as I have come to expect are of high quality.

This being a sequel to a successful product, there are things right off the bat that are expected. We expect to see them go over and beyond what the first book actually started with the line, to re-introduce enough that those who are just getting on board won't be left lost trying to understand, and to continue what was initialize with the first book. So, the question stands to answer, does this book succeed? Let's look.

First off, for those who just got here, as the intro for this product goes into a very good breakdown, a relic of a godling are those cool items (not just weapons, but lets face it, weapons are just freaking awesome for these usages) that so beyond the idea of a magic item. They are a named item, with a purpose and story, benefits and intention for them being involved...in short, they are those items that can allow for a GM to anchor an entire campaign upon, or simply allow the sword born as a little squirt of a god to help him stay alive when the gods have no usage of him. Whether the item be an always “on” powered item, story required or (and my personal choice) tied to a feat that allows the Player to determine their own level of dedication to the item as far as how developed is it going to become.

We are presented with 6 new relics here, with a backstory for each accompanied with a full 20 levels worth of progression for the evolution of the item and it's abilities. Vastly different from a standard magical item is that very growth of the relic, as the bigger one's hero grows, the item in their hands continues to evolve into an excellent “companion” piece to the career of anyone.

For a few examples I am going to have to go of the 6 with the suit of armor Kavacha. A really cool themed concept for the back story within which the armor of a champion against he forces of evil so impressed his foe when in the face of betrayal he unselfishly stripped himself of the armor to be given to an other who was in need. So impressed was his foes that he took the relic to a mortal, putting it within his hands and beginning this relic's history amongst the lads of mortals. Or perhaps Draupnir, a golden ring that daily will make sure the bearer has gold to provide.

Now, by now you've got to be thinking, but Mr. KTFish7 sir, how do I go about creating my very own relic items? Well my friends, Owen and friends were kind enough to continue to be those forward thinking people that they are and provided us with a handful of templates, covering armor (light,medium, heavy and shield) and rings. Are there plenty of more template concepts out there? But of course, this is the SECOND book, remember? So, the basic idea here is to take what could be extremely complex and/or difficult to navigate and turn it into a process that will have you designing new items in a matter of minutes. No, seriously. The fact that Owen takes ideas and turns them into something that looks so easy that any of us can do it is a testament to his talent, as he makes it look easy when anyone who has ever tried to design knows it can be a lot more difficult than one might think.

Am I going to get into an entire template here? No, as a matter of fact I am not. I think sitting down with one will make it all click very quickly, and will have you designing your own custom goodies. There is enough presented for each template to give the evolution of an item and its abilities from the first level to twentieth. All handled, as I said, balanced easily and provided in a format designed to make it easy, or at least easier than on own's our :)

Alright, formatting/editing gets high marks, the art is not as cohesive as usual (although there is no real pieces, they just seemed to not gel as much for me). Relics presented here all useful, and designed balanced. Variable rulings for handling relics and their growth as items a major plus for this product for me. The templates are the shiny toppings here, as they offer so many directions for any GM willing to work with them to create an uncountable collection of new relics. Having no bookmarks is one of those things that for me always irritates me, if there is more material than a Bullet Points worth of pages I believe bookmarks belong in a product. So, my two “negatives” balanced against the solid good here (taking into account that the art is totally a personal thought and has no actual affect on the material presented) I am going with a 4.5 star out of 5, rounding down to a 4 if required for a scale.


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5/5

I do layout work for an assortment of companies, with the largest body of work being with Adventureaweek.com. This product was provided for me for the purposes of doing this review. Having no bias towards Legendary Games, this review will be provided as fair as I hope it to be.

Road to Destiny from Legendary Games is yet another product from this company that in a very short amount of time have accomplished carving a spot at the table when it comes to 3PPs of Pathfinder material. With their visual themes and feel, the quality of their layouts and artwork, the names on those credits pages have a handful of familiar faces. But none of that matters in the end, not truly. Eye candy is just that if the meat at the center of it is not worth it, and that it where Legendary Games excels.

Every company seems to develop a niche, that thing they are known for to state it simply. In this case it would be that they provide “supplementary” Adventure Path material for those particular monthly books we all have watched Paizo release building a tale in 6 pieces. Now, there is an art to writing an adventure within an adventure already provided. A delicate measure of adding to what is there without tripping over, or simply breaking what is established, is required. First off, there is the obvious fact that the additional material has to be provided that is going to be useful, without pulling a “Bugs Bunny” and end up taking a left turn in Albuquerque.

So, taking all of that into account, what exactly are we talking about here, right? Let's take a closer look into Road to Destiny and I think the points of these products become apparent quickly. Planned to follow within the framework of a particular AP that took the PCs to the oriental lands via the frozen north (yes, you know which one), this adventure material aims to help a GM fill in a lot of “vague” time travel for the quest. A solid backstory providing us with a cool and well designed villain we are presented with an additional set of players to the larger adventure path's story. An ancient prophet followed by Shirota (a vampire, a jiang-shi, a stealer of breath and chi) weaves expertly a tale of two brothers born to a viking home as cursed offspring of the vampire (thanks to a possessed night of lust). The brothers grew to different worlds, one accepted by his “father's” people, the other cast out showing the obvious marks of his “blood” father's heritage. Both men would grow into important factors upon the path taken by the traveling PCs as they pass through on their way to the oriental lands. Or rather the NPC they travel with, to be specific.

Now, take this entire tale here, a very cool story on its own, and you have several encounters with vikings, thieving guide members, goblins and more. What you have is a tale that can easily stand on its own feet without the Piazo AP it was decided to accompany. And that is where I run into my first problem. Well, my only real problem. The adventure as written could easily add several nights of game play to a full AP for a playgroup, but there is enough here to drastically affect the experience ranges due to unplanned xp during the AP as written. Now, there are a few notes suggested within the product as to deal with this, including simply not rewarding the PCs with xp but rather with the great story being its own reward....I know what my playgroup would have to say to that idea, as I imagine several out there would. So, going over the material I would recommend you go back to the AP, closely look for the sections where this “new” story is designed to take place and how can you adjust the numbers to not unbalance anything.

Wait? I'm asking you to do some work to make a 3PP work with “official” material?? Yes, I am. The material is well worth it. It brings a great deal to the final product, you just need to be prepared as any GM worth their salt is supposed to be prepared. Perhaps this entire thing can be handled by offloading some of the original boring random crap that did not handle a great deal of the traveling. Or perhaps a different minor area that will not affect enough of the storyline to harm much, but your group's style is less suited for that area. Point is, there are ways to add this new material, easy. It was designed for that very reason after all.

Taking into account the weight of the story behind this adventure, the cartography, editing, formatting, value of material added to the over all AP, as well as this working very easily as a stand alone product I'm going with a 4.5 rating. That 4.5 comes with an addendum of this however, as I believe as a stand alone it is in fact a better solid 5 than as a supplementary product to another.


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5/5

I do layout work for an assortment of companies, with the largest body of work being with Adventureaweek.com. This product was provided for me for the purposes of doing this review. My associations with those working under the name of Super Genius Games are merely as a reviewer, fan and friend. I have no professional allegiance with them that would bias any review I might choose to post about any of their products. That being said, let's get on to it, shall we?

The Genius Guide to Name Traits, a 10 page PDF (with one page going to the credits/OGL) and the cover page dominated by the incredibly cool art piece. Several internal color pieces of artwork make this PDF visually very nice. The format follows the 3 column landscape that those familiar with SGG releases, and as typically the editing is of high level.

Names. Quite possibly the most important line on an entire character sheet for many of us. Naming our characters determines their identity, their personality and their legacy. There are far too many “Bob the Barbarians” out there (don't laugh, I GM'd for a kid who OWNED that name with pride). I have seen many products throughout the years offering charts and naming matrix's from various cultures, and several of them have been extremely helpful, others not so much. But nothing compared to what the SGG camp has done here. They have married the idea that one's name actually has a purpose, other than giving you a way to avoid the potential “Bob” moniker. They offer us Name Traits. Two different ideas here, those built from name portions (prefix and suffix) or going with full names having a meaning (think of those baby name books folks). Going with the name portions concept you have an extremely useful tool at your fingertips, with it functioning for a random generator, male/female or simply a list of prefixes/suffix to be chosen by GM/Players at choice. The cool thing here is that these portions each have their own small bonuses as a minor trait. To provide an example I go back to that barbarian, born to a terrible name, who could easily become:

Using the prefix of Bar-, gaining the meaning of bestial/berserk, and benefit he gets 1 additional round of rage per day.
Suffix I end up with a 7 (out of 20). I chose to go random for the second list, while choosing for the first list. So, suffix gives me -bin or -ibin...I like -ibin. Meaning choices are defender/knight/shield..

Benefit one type of armor the character is proficient with, a -1 to the armor check penalty (minimum 0). So, typing everything together, and starting with Bob the Barbarian I am left with Baribin, Bestial Defender of his Tribe. Not bad, no? Not to bad at all. And real easy to say the least.

From there we go to the second option, names as they are fit to their meanings, with a fully developed benefit for the name. These name traits are more thematic, with meanings like “Of great beauty” or “Of dragon’s blood, noble serpent, imbued with dragon’s power”. One who's name marks them as born or a dragon's blood find themselves with the trait at their benefit of one energy type giving them a resistance of 1. Pretty straight forward stuff, which is really some of the best design out there, as the rules get you shine with it, rather than getting in the way of letting you develop great stories and nights of memories.

So, final words on this one...Bookmarks, quality art, a great concept that is simplistic in it's design making it easy to work with without coming off clunky or complex, editing/format as have gotten used to expecting. Yeah, this product is a classic example of why I look to a great deal of the products from Super Genius Games as worth having in your library, and why Owen have earned the respect of a great many people in the industry. This is an easy 5 star rating, and well worth the price of admission folks. Now, stop populating your worlds with nameless barbarians, lol.


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Demolished, done right.

5/5

I was supplied with a reviewer's copy of this material, and I work with the publisher Adventureaweek.com. I have no professional attachment to Brian Engard, Steve Russell or Rite Publishing. I strive to keep my reviews unbiased, and presented from the voice of a fellow gamer.

The Demolished Ones, by Brian Engard, from Rite Publishing. The book weighs in at 94 pages, with an incredible cover from Hugo Solis. Interior art goes again to Mr. Solis's talented skills, gracing the feel of the art throughout this book. Following a dual column approach, with editing and formatting being of high caliber as come to be expected from Rite Publishing. Fully bookmarked (though not linked on the TOC page, although the TOC page is more intended for a printed concept than the bookmarks), with nested bookmarks throughout. So, that really covers the basics, doesn't it? The stuff that lets you what to expect in regards to the framework....so lets get to the fun stuff, shall we?

First off, and it has to be stated, right up front, I have never played a single game of Fate, ever. Before this book I had never even looked at the system. So how could my opinion of this product be worth anything right? Simple, the book taught me how to play. Yep, by the time I was done reading the intro to the storyline and drooling like a fanboy I was scouring through the pages teaching me in an extremely easy method to learn the basics of the system. Now, seriously, I learned a full system in a matter of a chapter within this book, OK, granted, there are always more things to learn about any system, but there is ENOUGH here to be able to play this storyline. And that is what matters. Turn sequence, character creation, character actions, and turn resolutions....all there. No, I am not going to get into how to play the system here in this review, that is not the intention of this review. Just well enough to say, this product handles, with ease, making sure than anyone could jump on board and enjoy this product.

And what exactly are we looking at here? What is the storyline the players are in store for? We can do this one of two ways, I can walk you through the story and ruins it for those sneaky players who troll for reviews. Or I can tell you what they can learn for themselves, without ruining the interwoven layered story. I'm going for option 2, trust me, it is worth to not give away anything to those looking to play this one.

The players awaken in a room, with no clue who they are, who the other people in the room with them are, and why there is a dead body. They have no memories of how they got there, if they are connected to each other, if they might be the responsible party for the body, or victims themselves. A phone call bringing a warning that the authorities are on the way puts everything into movement, and from there on the story is driven by the actions of the players as they piece together their fractured memories and lives. All is not as might appear for the players, as there are forces moving behind the scenes pulling strings to manipulate their lives and actions.

Hearkening to the feel and spirit of the distinct inspiration of the movie The Dark City this storyline brings forth the excellence of the neo-gothic feel of this movie. Working better described as a Victoriana Era piece perhaps, but feeling to my personal taste as very gothic. As well as the feel of the world being more below the surface than what can be “seen”. Whereas the game has an elite group of “adversaries” (known as The Masters) for the players character's to deal with within the setting for the storyline, the more direct Mr. Tock is everything you could ever hope for with a villain, and then some. Bringing to the table a bit of the classic concept of manipulating the world around him treating those involved at pieces on a chess board as he moves his “pawns” throughout the story, all the while attempting to better his own status amongst his peers.

Supported with a handful of excellent player handouts, from fliers with notes scrawled on them to torn articles from the local newspaper. I love the addition of these handouts, and really help to make sure that immersion into tho storyline is better for your players. And yes, it includes its own 1 page character sheet to make easier for players to manage their characters.

The world created here within this setting, within the city “under the dome” (spoilers, lol) does an excellent job of bringing to life several various locations throughout the city for the players to explore as they work their way through this storyline. And to that, it should be pointed out, that the storyline does a very good job of staying out of its own way, in that it is sandbox enough to allow for enough free roaming, while leading more then enough direct for purpose.

So, wrapping this up, using a scale of 1-5, with a 5 being the highest rating I can apply to this, I have no option but to give it a 6, flat out. I loved this product. There is so much Win here that it sold me, entirely. Not only does this product do an excellent job of teaching me a new game (handled with ease without making me feel like a noob), but delivering with a killer of a mystery for a twisted storyline. I can easily see this being used not just for a tabletop session with friends, but with the most minimal of effort to turn this into a live action evening with friends who have never roleplayed before, introducing this story much like a Murder Mystery Party night, over even a convention event.

This is an excellent storyline, and yes, I have gone out of the way to avoid referring to it as an adventure, as this feels more to me as a storyline. Shortly after reading through my review copy I jumped on the chance to get a print copy, adding to this to my shelf of personal favorites. And will more than likely be adding to this to my Top 10 list for the year of 2013 at the end of the year.

Well done Mr. Engard, well done indeed!


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5/5

I work with Adventureaweek.com primarily as their layout monkey. Recently I have branched out and begun to do some layout work for other companies. In the spirit of that transparency this product was provided to me for review purposes by Raging Swan, and I have done no work of any kind with this company. So, that out of the way, let's take a look, shall we?

Urban Dressing: Shrines, an addition from Raging Swan follows the series of "Dressings" from this company. Each product in the line takes on one specific theme giving us an assortment of percentile lists with widely varied options. The easiest way to explain the point behind the product is that very few GMs out there have discovered that extra 8th day in their week for planning. Products of this nature are perfect for using on the fly, or for rolling up entire scenarios. Players, as we all know, are a crafty lot. They tend to look for those areas in a GM's plan where they can exploit a "weakness" in a story point, targeting vague details like a hungry dog latching on to anything they sense being hidden. Now, I know no one wants to admit to it, but we have all been caught by a player who cause us with our pants down on being prepared with details or descriptions. Sometimes this is an easy thing to glaze over and cruise right on by, other times you'll find yourself stumbling over it like a roadblock. This line, and all of the extremely handy books in it, are exactly for those situations.

Shrines, those places of veneration to a being worthy of worship/acknowledgement come in three basic types. Personal, Public and Major. Each type gets a full random list (d100) listing enough details to make sure whether you are designed on the fly at the table, or laying out an entire town building by building. And before you start asking "If I am going to design that much why would I need this type of product?" Simple my friends, because by the time you are at your fifth "simple wooden shelf, two colored candles with a small brass topper) you are going to want to pull your fingernails out as you begin to realize how quickly it will get redundant. 100 options, for each types....far easier than going through all of those homes in a community. For presentations point, let's go with a small city, going with the theme of a people's living under a pantheon of gods, much like the Romans or Greeks. We'll keep it small here, say 500 houses, with 200 buildings of business nature, and another 20 buildings of public usage (schools, temples, government, etc). Now, these people live under a worship system that requires from them that they honor their gods within their homes, as well as in their place of works, and again in a much larger scale with public shrines and temples. How long until without something as easy as a product like this you are just deciding that everyone owns the same boring red shelf, or the same fountain at work, or the same statue in the park. A matter of a few dice rolls and those details come to life far faster, and keeping you from looking like you glazed through it and making sure that the players have to work for the details that matter to a mystery when you seed in a few shrines that play to your story for a purpose. What am I talking about? Simple, take the classic NPC example that far too many GMs through the years make this mistake. You present the PCs with three NPCs, a trio of ruffians, one with long braided hair dyed the color of blood. His gold capped tusks show the obvious lineage to the tribe he belongs, his chest covered in a crosshatch of scars showing a life of battle. Oh, yeah, and the other two guys...um, their orcs. OK, perhaps not that blatant, but come on, we've all seen someone do this. We all know at that point which NPC matters right? So, go back to my city for example. Designing the entire thing make sure my players have the full sandbox to explore I don't want to populate the city with the same boring stagnant shrines over and over and over...because when they find one that stands out glaringly at them there's no way to not see it. So the more details given to each adds a wealth of potential weight to your scenario, as well as allowing you to force your players to think.

Now, let's assume that I went the wrong way there for you, and this is not what you want this type of product for. What if you are not the random kind of person right? Not a problem, I promise not to call Creighton and tell on you. Pick and choose through what details are here, the same concept applies. 100 different easy and quick descriptions to make your life easier. Honestly, that is about the best thing anyone could say about these products.

Formatting follows the dual column approach, with nothing catching my eye in regards to errors. A selection of 20 NPCs for painless caretakers for shrines, as sometimes you just don't need an entire realized character statblock when a basic concept and a hook will work. And entire list of hooks & complications to inspire some excellent launches for a night of gaming, yeah, and you thought just a list of descriptions for a wooden shelf right? No, I have said it before, several times actually, this is a solid series, and one well worth to include in your GM kit. Given that I was planning on going with a 4- 4 1/2 star, but can't get the idea of that city, and all of its shrines out of my head...or what a product of this nature would be like in the hands of someone trying to design to the scope of a Ptolus sized community...yeah, this easily deserves it 5 stars for it's usefulness.


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Monkey Metal?

5/5

In the spirit of total transparency I work with Adventureaweek.com doing several things, not the least of which being their layout monkey. I also do reviews for primarily 3PPs, as I am a fan of the 3PP community. This PDF was supplied to me by Super Genius Games for review purposes.

Alright then. Let's get to this, shall we? Monkey Metal...lol...wait, that's not right. OK, so this one has a title that is going to send a great deal of us to Google wondering about that title, right? Nope, Will McCardell handles that right here, in the cover intro. Pronounced a-pay-ron refers to an ancient Greek term, meaning without limit. So, what does that mean for you and I right? It means that someone has finally found a way to balance and fix one of my biggest problem with the spell chucker in general. I love spell chucking, I do. From my early years gaming to taking over the GM's seat, the crafting of a spell list for a character became a delicate dance of making sure there were the "required" spells that the group was probably going to be relying on, to the more personalized arsenal that brought on the pain...all the while taking my precious spell options, since you only get so many after all. And yes, there are a great deal of us out there why just went for the "house rule" concept of allowing for much more freedom for the spell lists for the sake of playing. But, within the rules, there was a need to change this, a way that would change everything without unbalancing thing to the point that it would break the game. That my friends, is the Apeiron Stave.

At it's simplest explanation, a spell in a can. Yep, that easy. I know, I know, just lost a few of you, but stick around, trust me, its so much more that the standard spell in a can. A stave gets a set amount of charges (which is an easy enough concept, we’re all familiar with this idea) that trades of spell levels for charges. Pretty simple, right? From there we get into enhancements (which bring on the cool factor) where in the item in the hands of spell chucker becomes a more diverse and useful item. We are also given the option to utilize a sacrificial power (an enhancement to the effects for an additional cost of charges). The breakdown of explaining a “statblock” for these staves walks us through the different sections, explaining effects, enhancements, requirements yadda yadda yadda...The cool thing here is that there is enough material to put together the mechanics to create you own staves. It would have been perhaps a better presentation of the guidelines for creating, but I predict we’re going to be seeing more of these soon enough, perhaps we’ll be presented with a more clear defined idea for item creation. Oh, that’s right, look, its the future already....scan down to the feats and there is the proper feat I refer to, an particular Item Creation feat, with costs and such. Yes, there are the ideas of how many enhancements are too many, when does a sacrifice power become a game break....yes, these would he helpful immensely, but again, I think we’ll be seeing more of these items.

Including that we are presented with Lesser and Greater varieties of several of the staves there are 20 here by my count, each with their flavor when if comes to enhancements and sacrifice powers. Various visual cues to given you something to work from beyond “it’s a stick”, with several rather cool materials used for some of the staves. And it just wouldn’t be a collection of cool new toys with these great new concepts without a handful of Feats to go along with them, right? Alter the enhancement from your sacrificial power, the pace of recharge daily, a bonus for overcoming resistance and or course the all important one, Craft apeiron staff (Item Creation).

Is there potential for abuse with this system? Of course there is, but there is in almost every set of rules. Using this idea as what it is intended to be, spell chuckers are given more option to be effective, pure and simple. Extremely impressive thought behind the design and attempts to keep this from becoming a broken concept.

Now, it would be wrong of me to not mention the immense amount of eye candy in this PDF, as there is a lot of very good looking art in this product, starting right off with a cover from Redpeggy. And, seriously, Hyrum, I want that font you used for the title treatment, it looks incredible! As always the formatting and editing top notch, with no errors catching my attention to be noticed.

Alright, wrapping it all up folks, I see this being one of those ideas that could easily be one of those things that becomes a standard idea amongst playgroups. I just makes so much sense, a group passing on using it would be cheating themselves. Products like this one belong in your toolbox, and remind people that 3PP have a lot going on. This one was an easily 5 star rating, and so worth the price of admission folks!


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5/5

The Expanded Battle Scion, newest addition to the New Paths series from those oh so clever Kobolds. The constantly impressive Marc Radle takes the reigns once again, taking a deeper look in to the Battle Scion. Now, anyone who has been around the editions throughout the years should be fairly familiar with the basic idea here, which is a good thing. For those joining us late to the class, allow me to give a basic crash course in the concept. The Battle Scion is everything you've ever wanted in a character that left you unable to decide between a fighter or a spell chucker. That's right, all the groovy perks of being a fighter including their feats and such combined with having an arsenal of spells at your finger tips. So, why doesn't everyone do this, right? Simple, checks and balance my friends. And this is done very well here by slowing down a character's progression to make you earn all those perks. Not so much that you won't have as fun in the lower levels, but it will force you appreciate when the feats begin rolling in. Also, and to be honest, this is not a multi-class, so when to hit the sweet spot and you and start taking advantage of feats from the two “parents” classes of the Battle Scion you will have to split those feats up, deciding what means more to you as the player. Personally, I love the idea here giving enough flexibility that we could all sit down to play a group of Battle Scions and still end up vastly different in our character's builds.

Now, having covered the fact that once level progression kicks in there are going to be the sweet access to feats (Fighter Feats, Cantrips and the access to a Spellbook, and this being where I see all the potential to go nuts with options for character build), here's where we into the cool stuff. Force Blast, starting right off the bat at level 1 (with an growing power level to the damage for this ability as the PC increases in level), operates as an effective magic missile. Starting off our little 1rst level character within this class they are armed with a finger loaded folks, ready to fire with a 2d4 Force Missile...go ahead, roll it around, think about that. Still not laughing at the tiny missile are you. At first level, in a class that combines everything you want from a fighter and a wizard they come equipped ready to do that much damage, before you put a weapon in their hand. And as I stated the missile gets more powerful right there with your levels. Yeah, I like.

Now, I know, you are wondering where's the weapon perks, right? Yeah, they weren't overlooked, trust me. Just over the edge of unlocking access to these feats we get this awesome class feature Dweomer Weapon. They could have gone with the basic “x level gets you a {x} amount of {+} to your weapon....yup, boring. And, to be honest, it looks like that is what you start with, but keep reading on and we find that you are given a whole shopping list of options you can enhance your weapon with this ability, letting you once again go in multiple different directions with your character. Be as varied or specific as you want with this.

Two archetypes give you a few options to help to develop this class, and begin to show off what can be done with it. The Force Blaster gives us the Battle Scion more focused on this arcane fire power with several class features turning that force missile of theirs into a cannonshot. LOVE THIS ARCHETYPE!! Point blank, am saying this right now, this archetype is either going to earn Marc some friends around my gaming table for loving the NPC they have to deal with, or Marc, buddy, be careful going out for coffee, lol.

OK, I did say there was two archetypes, and our second is the Bonded Scion, going deeper into exploring the idea of a Battle Scion focusing on enhancing their weapon, and becoming an even more deadly adversary in combat. A solid archetype, well designed, but I got to say it, the first got me of the two, hands down.

With 5 new Feats we get one in particular I have to discuss here, Awakened Arcane Bond (allowing for sentience to your arcane bonded object) is one of the cooler feats I have come across in a while. I love anything that is going to help the story propel along with more than simple + this or + that....those are simple math, not helping tell a story and allowing for creative and great concepts. Feats like this, these were designed for those of us who want to Roleplay, not just rollplay. Well done, well done indeed!

Now, our last section, New Magic Items. Along with a trio of legendary items (belonging to Gax the Great – yes, I am thinking I can't read that without seeing Gygax, lol) there is a short addition here giving us rules for Legendary Magic Item Rules. Whereas the three items are all cool in their own right, the rules are where this section shines.

So, wrapping this one up. Editing, spelling, layout....all phenomenal. Design, outstanding...only real complaint, I want more, lol. Seriously, this book is an excellent addition to a playgroup's collection, and I am hoping by the time I have posted this review that HeroLab files have been added, as I seriously want these in my files. Very well done, an excellent character class reminding everyone why the New Paths series was started, and what can be done with these classes. And before I forget we have one more page, a single sheet spell tracker to be added to a player's character portfolio to aid in tracking their daily spells. Always a good thing to have on hand, and a welcome addition.

Final rating on this one can be no less than a solid 5 star rating, and well worth the price of admission folks.


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5/5

I was a fan of Leomund. I think a great deal of folks were. As well as several of the other fictional spell designing, item crafting powerhouses who's names graced so many items throughout an era of gaming. And yes, a great of those echoes of times gone by are still there, albeit under other names, but the connection to an individual is gone, and than somehow lessens the finished results. What an I yammering about? Something very cool...that's what.

Liz Smith takes on 30 Portable Rooms in this latest offering of the #30 series, but does it with more than just a collection of stats for some items. She gives us a name. Wyrist Spellweaver. A piece of fiction, sure, but aren't they all? The sheer fact that the PDF opens with a small piece of correspondence mentioning that the following is a collection of notes pertaining to one Wyrist Spellweaver, and his items of creation, and the reasoning behind why he created them in the first place took this PDF to a completely different level for me. Instantly I was far more interested in what these pages were going to contain, and how the mythos of this new NPC would evolve. See, that was, in the end, what we lost with the named spells, the mythos of those characters laid bare through their works. So, without even making it past the first paragraph I found myself impressed Liz, well done.

But, what of the rooms? What offerings are we presented with? Well, the Black Arrow is a classic example of the portable room done right, a stable complete with unseen servants and enchanted to allow speech with animals with the room, all presented as an old Horseshoe turned into a boot scrapper when deactivated. Or perhaps the Book of Books, a library, hidden with a book. Yeah, I know, so freaking obvious it astounds that this wasn't already done, but design of this nature is some of the best design out there, as it relies on its own simplicity.

We have a pair of boots that leave a fishing pond in their steps, a mug with a trapdoor to a hidden wine cellar, a thieves dart that spun just right will open a trapdoor to a training gym...in short, there are some seriously interesting takes on how one defines the idea of a portable room.

The best part here has to be the benefits of the rooms themselves. Each room gives a reason why one would want to get into it, be it a bonus against a roll or check, rest, food, etc. But not one of these benefits outweigh the value of the item to a game. By this I mean simply that any of these items could be introduced without doing enough unbalancing to do any true damage to a game, which is ideal of course.

Editing and format wise I caught nothing in regards to errors or bad layout, rather quite the opposite, this overall look and feel of this PDF is rather well put together. Design wise I am very impressed with Liz Smith's take on the portable room concept, and and can't help but recommend this PDF to anyone and everyone who missed out Leomund as much as I. A solid 5 star rating, and well worth the price of admission.


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5/5

OK...let's begin with the statement that I am not a fan of humor in my game material. I know, I know, how very grinch like of me, but there it is. That being said, a product that is in fact a humorous product is not quite the same, now is it? I knew the second I saw the cover that what I had in my hands was a tongue in cheek collection of creatures...something for those looking to inject some holiday humor into their gametop...what I was not expecting was the solid design behind the creatures.

Yeah, I said it, solidly designed critters. Now, granted, their are a few here that will probably only ever exist in a game meant for laughs, such as the Gingerbread Golem, Eggnog Pudding, or even the Aberrant Fruitcake...but their designs are still logical and solid enough to field them, with effectiveness. That spoke through, loud and clear.

Taking a step towards the undead side of things I have got to say the Dirge Caroler is hands down my favorite creature in this collection, and oddly invokes some nostalgia for classic Doctor Who in me...not sure if it was just the feel of the creature or if there was something similar in an episode, regardless they are a cool concept. Leading a "caroling choir" of well dressed zombies, the dirge carolers enchant and devour to their heart's content within communities, adding a serious level of creepy to those annoying folks wandering around singing.

And the Dreidel Swarm, now that is an interesting concept, and a well executed one at that. That is easily something I can see getting some mileage at a gametable, showing up perhaps in the lair of a demented toy-maker....hmmm, excuse me, need to make a few notes....

Point being, if you are looking for a cool little collection of holiday inspired creatures, you've found them, period. There's something in here for any play style, and then some.

Now, did I have issues with a few things? Yeah...the art is all over the place, some pieces being extremely cartoony, perhaps even childish...but for what this collection is, that oddly added to the charm of the product. Which brings me to my only true complaint in regards to design, and that is the Clockwork Nutcracker having no form of bite attack. It seems an almost given that there would be some special linked with that gaping maw of his.

All in all though, as I stated, the creatures here are a good collection of holiday inspired weirdness, ready to bring a few smiles to the table as you roll some dice with friends under the tree.

A 5 star rating for a rather unique collection of oddities.


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4/5

#30 Alchemical Gadgets, yet another addition to the #30 series from Rite publishing offers up an alternative to equipping a playgroup with a plethora of magical items that are typically costly, and usually limited in the scope of who can or can not use them. The alternative is to look to alchemy. Granted there are a few items here that are blatant re-skins, and perhaps a little to “modern” for some tastes when it comes to a fantasy setting (I'm looking at you Alchemical Fire Projector...yes, it's a flame thrower)...but there are some really good pieces in here. The Arcane Atomizer allows for the detection on magical auras by spraying a mist of fluid into the air which reacts via color change to present magical energies. The Firefly Box brings rave strobe lights to fantasy gaming...I kid you not, lol...a good solid explanation for how and why, but at the end of the day, it is what it is, lol. Ah well, I guess even medieval kids need to get their funk on occasionally.

The Forensic Lens gives us game mechanics for the classic multi-tree of lenses that Hollywood has done such a good job of portraying throughout most of my life as those glasses that all “sciency types” wear...you know the type I am referring to, the main lens with a plethora of flip up and fold down additional lenses...well, this would be a monogoggle variety of said eye-wear. Mainly designed for aiding in tracking and investigation alas, so its intended purpose is far more limited I think then these could have been.

Frog Gloves grant webbing to aid in swim checks and speed, and the Grounder Spike operates as a limited form of electrical protection. The Hopelight Globe (while reminding me of a glo-stick) is a fairly cool little device, and one I could easily see making available to my PCs. A globe filled with a charged liquid that is tossed to a point, whereupon the necessary chemical reactions take place within it causing the attached lenses to focus and emit a pale green light. Cool thing there is the light is more than just a means of being able to see, as it makes etheral creatures visible, and damages undead and aberations.

The Omnicaulker is yet another example of an alchemical item skirting the concepts of re-skinning modern ideas, without even trying to hide the fact. It's a caulk gun, pure and simple. You load it with different alchemical substances stored in cartridges that you can then squeeze out in a thin line for a variety of effects depending upon which substance you load....of the worst when it comes to following along with the idea of re-skinned modern items has got to be Superstick...yes, it's super-glue.

OK...Spell Poppers are indeed something we all know, and I imagine most of us have fond memories of playing with them as kids, and yet they are not a modern item, for they have been around for quite sometime. They are the little paper wrapped poppers that you throw at surfaces to get them to explode, totally harmless, but a great way to distract a spell chucker trying to cast, and something so simple in its usage here that it is sheer brilliance.

14 pages total, with 10 of those being the new alchemical items, the PDF is presented in the standard dual column format with embedded artwork. Following the classic Rite publishing usage of classic art this PDF does not disappoint, as there are some truly exceptional pieces of art included. Editing wise I did find a few stray mishaps, the occasional odd wording or dropped letter.

Whereas there are several items within this collection that to me felt like a blatant re-skin of modern tech, in the end that is what the alchemy line is, whether I like it or not. Personally, I am not a fan of the idea, but it is a rather large portion of what alchemy is, the precursor to science and tech. So, having cleared that up, that I am judging this purely on its design merits, and not personal opinions towards alchemy in general, I am going with a 4 star rating. There are a lot of well designed items here that would help any playgroup drastically, at a far easier rate of availability than magical means supply.


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If only I could give a 6 star rating

5/5

We've all been there, those little squishy tasty scooby snacks known as low level characters...just waiting to be fed to a group of rats, or maybe if you're really lucky a pack of goblins....Woopee!! Yeah, not so much, right? Low level notoriously blows, because so little is written for it with the idea that the group can handle a real challenge, let alone is worthy of a story that goes beyond the most absolute basic concepts...after all, the good stuff is reserved for those characters that can do something with it. Well, Wolfgang says NO MORE!!

To the Edge of the World by Wolfgang Baur is (like every book in the Midgard series) a visual treat to look at. To say that Marc Radle was a good choice for graphic design for the Kobolds has got to be one of the biggest understatements one could imagine. Everything Radle touches ends up with a higher degree of professionalism and just all around sexiness. Sexiness? Yeah, I went there. I can not stress enough how much I have fallen in love with the look of the Midgard series of books, and am thrilled to see that the look is going to carry into the adventures as well as the sourcebooks, as this truly ties them all together as a cohesive set.

Now, I know, I know...you didn't come here to listen to me go on and on about how pretty it is, you want to know about the meat of it all, The adventure itself. And how in the world any adventure written for a beginning playgroup could possibly incorporate a cover that freaking cool, right? Well, let me break it to you buttercup....Oh, wait, almost forgot...PLAYERS BEGONE (wiggles the fingers, tosses the dust) ...Alright, almost forgot to cast that handy little incantation SPOILER ALERT...lol. Now, where were we?? Ah yes, the cover, and just what the heck is going on in this adventure....read on my friends, read on.

The PCs are going to find themselves hired to travel to meet with an undead queen, there to do the diplomacy dance and ingratiate themselves through gifts and flattery to try and gain access to a tomb with the intentions of retrieving an item for their employer. Following me so far? Cool. Because what you have here is essentially the hook to get your PCs moving. The man of means hiring them is going to hook them up with some handy dandy toys to help, things well beyond their means as PCs, but in the end they are acting as emissaries for their employer, which is a great way to put means within the grasp of a group without breaking the mechanics of what they themselves could afford to have access to.

Offered the usage of a ship with an experienced captain (a dragonkin by the name of Gullnipper, who has an excellent piece of art on a sidenote), the PCs should have no problems in reaching the island of Karn'lothra. To keep the journey interesting several side encounters are presented to be used or not, as the GM chooses. Upon arrival to the island (which is described with absolutely cool little features - the corpse of a titan washed up on the beach, a ring of large sculpted heads surrounding the islands coastline, the immense amount of tombs forming a veritable wall of mazeworks.) the PCs will have to jump through the diplomatic hoops and deal with the Bloodless Queen (lich-queen) in attempting to get permission to search for a specific tomb, and then enter said tomb to retrieve an item for their employer.

It should be noted that at this point, yes, the PCs are dealing with things that could easily kill them all, without trying. And that's exactly the point. A group that remembers their place in the larger scale of things, and talks instead of unsheathing their weapons stands a much better chance of getting through several areas of this adventure alive. Assuming they get to the tomb, and survive its defenses, they will find themselves in possession of both that which they came for, and an unexpected treat that should amuse any GM out there...an intelligent, talking spellbook. Yeah, a built in NPC who may or may not co-operate at its own discretion, without being so intrusive that it gets in the way of the storyline.

The book, in the attempt to facilitate escape from the Queen's minions, summons a Leviathan Island for the PCs to "board" and "set sail" on. The leviathan island is freaking huge people, and the map showing it off is a piece of artwork on its own, an actual island of stone and vegetative growth, complete with a group of mongrelmen who worship the freaking thing.

So, pretty cool so far, no? I mean, let's face it, that's some pretty epic stuff for a low level group to experience...but we're so not done yet. The Midgard setting presents us with a flat world, and this leviathan is intending to leave, and get back to the celestial sea by swimming to the edge and making the leap...and yes, the PCs are going along for the ride unless they choose to bail, with no ship or hope of survival. Amongst the stars the leviathan heads towards the Citadel of a Million Stars, wherein the PCs will find themselves embroiled within the court politics of the celestials in residence, with no real allies to rely upon.

A fantastically envisioned adventure that allows for the reality that it is OK for a low level group of PCs to encounter things beyond their combat scope, to be put into danger that will require them to do more than hack and slash to survive, and truly pushes the envelope of what a low level adventure is.

Presented in a dual column format with embedded artwork from Mark Bulahao and Marc Radle, cartography from Todd Gamble, Alyssa Faden and Peter Bradley, and of course that insanely cool cover piece from Pat Loboyko. Editing is top notch, with nothing really jumping out and grabbing me.

Whereas the adventure could be ported to another setting, the true weight of the design and the subtle beauty really shines through when it is left right where it was designed to be played, within the Midgard setting. Several references are made throughout the PDF to other Kobold Press publications, ranging from other Midgard titles to KQ issues, all of which one should have within their library (lol), or can be referenced from the D20PFSRD easily enough.

Wolfgang reminds us all why he's a force to be reckoned with in the industry with this adventure, and easily earned a 6 star rating from me, rounded down to a 5 for the purposes of this forum. A true treat, and well worth the price of admission folks!


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3/5

5 Mount Steed Spell Feats...yes, it's time again to look in on the Bullet Points series. Following the standard look and format for the Bullet Point series with the three page, three column layout, with of course the lead in page explaining what exactly the Bullet Point line is all about. Found three hiccups in the editing, which really surprised me given the usual level of quality behind SGG's products.

So, 5 feats....what does Owen have for us this time? Aethon allows for mounts to be included within abjuration spell targets (as long as the spells target a number of opponents rather than area effect, while Buraq allows for healing spells to include the mounts of those targeted. Augment Steed is easily one of the cooler feats in this collection, as it allows you to forgo summoning a mount to apply it's crunch to a mount you are already astride, as well as giving your mount some nice perks in regards to fatigue, hunger, etc. Heightened Steed Spell cranks up the effective level of the summon spell giving the summoned mount bonuses to its movement and AC. And last, not least, is my personal choice out of this collection, the Summon Steed feat. Summon Steed allows you to summon anything off of your summon lists that is already available to you outfitted and ready to go, as a willing steed...go ahead, let that sink in for a few minutes...think of how many things are on the summon lists, and how cool it would be to utilize some of them as steeds.

Final thoughts...the editing balanced against the design of the feats. Two of the feats are stellar in my opinion, with the other three being decent to cool, but not rising to the level of the other two. Settling at a three star rating for this one, a good product, just not entirely up to the standards Owen has led me to expect from him.


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5/5

The Village Backdrop series gives that most needed of thing for any campaign that is going to do any traveling, detailed locales. Those places your PCs are going to be traveling to and through. With a genre that loves to over detail and fluff the importance of every place out there, this was one of those PDFs that I found to be refreshing, as Village Backdrop: Apia presented this village as exactly what it is, a normal place.

Apia is a village founded upon the remains of a previous settlement, built within the shadow of a castle's ruins. Born from those who originally came to loot what was left of the castle and the surrounding ruins of the previous town, and the people who seem to always be there following adventurers, a community of tents slowly built into the standards one expects to see within a village (bars, taverns, general store). That probably would have been all there was to the history of this town if not for an encounter one evening that changed everything for this village and its people.

An ettercap known as M’yxtix encountered a local child, hurt and in need of aid. Rather than following her first instincts, the realization that the villagers would hunt her down if the child fell to more harm led her to the unthinkable, she offered aid and “rescued” the child. Teaching the villagers the healing properties of honey to aid in the child's burns she ingratiated herself to the townsfolk, and was welcomed into their lives. She currently lives within the ruins of the castle with her “pets”, several large spiders. The village, since that first meeting, has become a bee-keeper central, and has rebuilt their economy around honey and it's many uses, both in culinary applications as well as as a health aid. And yes, we get a step into the fantastical there, with an alchemical honey potion, and the Mellified Man (a mummification process that turns one's remains into an uber healing component in battling poisons or disease).

Lots of cool little details here, including a table for random village events including things like a town dance, baking contests and harvest season (tied to crab-apples), and wild animal attacks. Prices for everything offered up gear wise (honeyed foods, tavern drinks, the alchemical honey), detailed interesting NPCs, a small bit of intrigue and even a matter of secrecy involving theft going on within the village all add up to one very cool little spot on the road to stop off and get to know the locals.

Bookmarks, fully linked Table of Contents and a really nice old school feel map of the village all put the finishing touches on a product I was already looking at giving a solid 5 star rating to. Well worth the price of admission, and a prime example of how to design a cool community without over doing it.


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4/5

Dungeon Dressing: Fountains is the latest addition to the Dungeon Dressing line from Raging Swan. For those few out there who may be unfamiliar with this series the entire point and purpose of this excellent line is to make sure that you, the GM, never have to again find yourself facing your players with such thrilling descriptions as “There's a..um....fountain thingy...yeah, in the room. Its got water and stuff.” Come on, let's admit it, we've all shared a table at least once with that person. Always found myself trying to decide if I should reach across and smack them of simply feel bad for them, lol.

If you can roll a dice and look at a chart you can use the books in this series. It really is laid out and designed that easily, and that simplicity is one of the strong points behind the design, as the entire point of this series is to allow you to design insanely quickly, freeing you up to tackle other tasks.

So, what are we looking at here, what exactly is covered in a book discussing fountains? Ben Armitage does a descent job of covering enough of the details in answering that question that this book is about far more than just whatever peeing kid statue defaults to the center of the pool (sorry, I had to, lol)...no, he gives us random tables to handle a small list of shapes and sizes (local heroes, animals, trees, large stone chunks, gods, etc...you know, the typical statues), and the water pouring forth (be they clean or diseased, the quality of said water, or possible magical effects). All of that before we even get into the cool little details of what the PCs will experience when they encounter the fountain initially (The look and feel of the fountain before the game mechanics and such).

Now, up to now the tables, while cool and extremely useful, have not really handled what I consider the gravy points. They have been the required bits of knowledge in regards to designing a basic fountain. To demonstrate what I mean by this I rolled up a fountain from these initial tables, and present my creation below...

A statue depicting (a legendary hero) stands in the center of the pool on a raised column, with water flowing from his hands. The underground water source carries heavy metals to the fountain’s basin. Ingesting the water causes arsenic poisoning

Now, that's all well and good, and yes I left off the mechanics regarding the poison....but let's see what happens when I roll on the features and characteristics tables also, shall we?

A statue depicting (a legendary hero) stands in the center of the pool on a raised column, with water flowing from his hands. The underground water source carries heavy metals to the fountain’s basin. Ingesting the water causes arsenic poisoning. Inlaid on the inside of the fountain's basin is a mural depicting great scenes of glory. A wooden plank, held in place by a heavy rock, extends over the three feet deep fountain. Wet footprints lead from the water back up onto the plank.

Following along here? That's a grand total of 5 dice rolls. 1 for my initial fountain shape, 1 for the quality of water, 1 for the disease (since I rolled for tainted water), 1 characteristic and 1 feature...grand total time spent, 45 seconds...no really, I timed it, and I went slow, lol. Why do I make a point of doing this in every one of these reviews? Because I can not stress enough how useful and easy these products are.

Now, as has become a standard in this series, not only do we get the random charts of multiple design points that when combined make up a massive variety of fountains, we get a few traps. Three traps total, with a few spots of true coolness. Bonehold presents as a trap that might leave your PCs preparing to face a threat without understanding what they are facing initially, and these are the types of traps I like. A group of skeletons held in a ring around the fountains base under the water level by chains of stone await the PCs when they explore the fountain. The beauty of this trap is that the skeletons are not the threat, they are the last victims. The chains release the skeletons and attempt to grapple those who enter the water, pulling them in and holding them until they drown. And that's all just the initial round that anyone enters the water...on round two it gets more interesting as the second threat of the trap presents itself. But I'll let you read about that yourself.

Pairing this PDF with Dungeon Dressing: Pools would give you a massive amount of material to work with for designing some truly memorable pieces of detail as well as fantastically memorable encounter points. Tallying up my thoughts on this product...editing was fantastic, format was the classic two column approach. Two pieces of B&W artwork embedded within text flow, fully bookmarked and a linked Table of Contents (something I love to see) all add to the value here. Design wise what is presented here do allow for an immense amount of cool fountains, and there are several options within the lists for tainted waters, diseases and the inevitable slimes...but what I would have loved to have seen was more options for fountains that have nothing to do with water at all. Beer, wine, lava, blood, acid, flaming liquids...there are so many liquids that would have been cool to see added to this product that would have taken a good product to a stellar product in my mind. Am going with a 4 star rating, as the product is an excellent product, but the lack of inclusion of other liquids felt like an inclusion to me, and one of the three traps just didn't live up the bar set by the other two.


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5/5

Racial Ecologies Guide to Feyborn marks the latest addition to the line from Fat Goblin Games. Written and illustrated by Rick Hershey this PDF tackles those born with a touch of Fey to them. Be that because they are blood descended or merely blessed from birth, the feyborn are not quite the rest of us in regards to straight humanity, and it is these differences that make this such an interesting option for a PC race. The product does go on the default that human subtype is the only option presented, but I can't help but feel this subtype would be easily applied to several other races working off of the racial adjustment mechanics given for turning a human into a feyborn. Lots of racial trait options to make sure you will not feel pigeon-holed, which is always a plus in my opinion when presenting a new playable race, as more options always frees up players to explore and design. Along with the trait options comes a full set of favored class options as well, adding a further level of customization.

Rick does a great job here in remembering a lot of the little details that all add up to making a fleshed out race, a table for weight/heights and aging effects, a knowledge DC table for common knowledge regarding the race, the things like that. Eleven new feats offer up such gems as Fey Sense (Allowing for one to detect the presence and amount of fey within an area), Fey-Born Sorcery (giving a bonus to Enchantment spells) and Life's Blood (allowing for you to trade hps worth of damage for healing points for an ally).

New equipment introduces us to Dryad Pheromones, which do all those things those fake pheromone colognes always promised to do for us, lol. A very cool item, with a lot of useful potential. Follow this up with the Crescent Twilight, a fey weapon formed of two crescent blades laid side by side, and game mechanics to explain just what exactly what Fairy Duct is...hint, it's kind of gross in all reality, but makes perfect sense. An easy table gives all the pertinent data for including the weapon into your game easily.

Six magical items ranging from a Sprigganblood Cudgel (which can grow three times per day gaining a Reach ability) to Auberon's Blade ( a very nicely designed weapon, a flaming longsword that can be transformed into a whip, retaining damage from the sword while picking up attributes of a whip). Amongst these magical items I have to point towards the Gremlin Bell. In a world filled with conmen and snake oil salesmen peddling useless trinkets to the uneducated there are occasionally a few trinkets that actually do exactly what they claim to, and this happens to be one of those items. A simple bell on a string, nothing more, nothing less...but it reacts to and affects gremlins when they get within a certain proximity.

And, to close it all out, for those looking to get into the specifics of which fey their characters can trace back to as far as the racial details go we have a section detailing the heritage mechanics of being from a certain fey. Five options detailed, including the Bogeyborn, Dryadborn, Leprechaunborn, the unfortunate Miteborn, and the Nereidborn. Intended for those characters who are more attached to their fey heritage, each of the five racial packages replaces the default Feyborn racial kit, with a set of ability adjustments, traits and special abilities.

A random table with physical attributes (horns, skin tones, etc) close us out with an excellent way to quickly and easily generate a varied list of visuals for Feyborn characters.

Layout goes back and forth between a two and a three column format, with top notch editing. I found only one area of odd spacing, and to be honest I only mention it so that when others see it they won't be scratching their head wondering why I didn't. It certainly doesn't impede reading nor understanding, and is only odd in that it is a space between paragraphs on a page where no other paragraph breaks are spaced the same way.

Not mentioned as of yet, because quite frankly I am still trying to decide where I stand on it, is a sidebar regarding naming concepts. The sidebar as it stands is a useful tool, but within the text flavor of the Feyborn it is mentioned that their names are as varied as any human cultures, and that they are raised typically within these human lands. It seems to me that human parents would name their children according to their local racial customs and naming customs...that being said, in a fantasy setting, if a PC is looking for their Feyborn to have been born to parents who recognized them for what they were and want a name more fitting their heritage, the list is extremely handy. So...I guess, in the end I settle at the list is extremely useful for those looking to utilize it, which goes the route of providing options for those wanting them, which is something I tend to be a big fan of...hmmm, guess I figured out where I stand on the sidebar then, lol.

OK, so final tally. Artwork good, editing good, layout solid and design very appealing. An all around interesting racial option for a player race provided with a lot of options to make sure an entire table of players could choose this race to play and still manage some wildly different characters. A solid 5 star product, and well worth the price of admission! Well done!!


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5/5

Dungeon Dressing: Doors addresses that which all of us have put a few well placed shoulders and boots through over the years, and handles them with the perfect blending of logical application and devious design. For those not familiar with the Dungeon Dressing series this line seeks to help give a time harried GM the means to provide an immense amount of flavor and detail to their designs with as simple an action as rolling on a random chart. Formatting and editing appeared to be fantastic, I didn't see anything jump out in that regards, so well done there! We got two main charts this time out, one for features of the doors, the other for flavor. But before we get to those charts we have a full breakdown of the basics, types of doors, their AC, their hardness, all the good stuff one needs to know. The cool thing in here is we get mechanics for bead curtains...yes, I said bead curtains. Trust me, by the time you get to the traps in the back of the PDF you'll be thrilled you have game rules for a freaking bead curtain, and you just might be face palming for having never thought of this brilliant move yourself...I'll give you a hint, it involves poison, of the contact variety, covering the beads...

Reading through this we've got a massive amount of doors covered in this product, I think in all honesty the only true door type I didn't see represented was the pocket door (although there was something similar to be fair). So, as is my standard when I do a review on this series, I rolled a few dice (d100) to see just what type of door I could come up with on the fly, and I'll share with you here so that you can get an idea of how easy this series lets you design cool features. So, no further ado, my random door...

The door is decorated with gilded writing in an appropriate alphabet. It is rendered in immaculate cursive. A soft knocking, in a staccato rhythm, is coming from the door's other side.

Now, obviously before I'd read this to my PCs I would change the bit about an appropriate alphabet to a language that works for my setting, but that was 2 dice rolls. And one seriously cool story plot point...what's the wording on the door? A warning? Instructions? A warding spell keeping whatever is knocking behind the door? And just what is doing the knocking? All from 2 dice rolls. Starting to see why I love these books? Yes, any GM worth their salt can do this all day and night themselves, no doubt of that...but how many of us have the time? Products like this free us up to do what we most love, and that is game.

Now, as is a known fact of every paranoid PC who has ever opened one to many doors with reckless abandon, some of those portal covers are not without their own means of defense, I of course am referring to traps. Jeff Erwin excelled here in giving not only some cool options for traps (along with variants and the appropriate CR modifications for each), but he hooked us up with a very nice presentation of the standard poison needle trap. Why do I single this most basic of traps out for praise? Because along with the basic trap write up we are given a full table of CR adjustments for differing poisons, disable or perception DC variations, and attack bonuses to the needle itself. All arranged in an easy to read and use chart that turns the basic needle trap suddenly into a plethora of variants. This is the type of chart that you copy/paste into a GM screen folks, seriously. And to accompany this highly useful chart Jeff goes and gives us one for commonly used magical traps for doors as well, along with a minimum CL listing and CR ranking for each spell as used in a door trap.

Another solid addition to the Dungeon Dressing series, and well worth the price of admission folks, a solid 5 star rating not only deserved, but earned.


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5/5

Dwellers in Bone from Raging Swan press is the perfect example of a side trek, those glorious fillers that are not quite an actual adventure, but far more than a simple encounter. Following the 2 column approach for the layout editing appeared to be of high quality, and is decorated with a couple of stock B&W art pieces.

The story behind this side trek falls to this....ah, see, you thought I was just going to jump right into it without waiting to see if the players would stop reading first, didn't you? Come on, we all know by now they're going to read anyway, so if the players out there are looking to ruin their fun, that's their issue, for we must continue, lol. So, without further ado, let the spoilers commence...

The Severed Ear Clan of orcs had accomplished something more or less baffling to most other races, a note of civility. To demonstrate this I offer up the fact that they buried their dead in cairns. Most notably their dead from battles, but lets face it here, that's how most orcs die after all. It is the location of one of the cairns that will be at the center of this sidetrek. Years have passed and the Severed Ear Clan has long since been broken and scattered, and most of their cairns have been located and looted, all save one. And it to this cairn that a mated pair of drake have come to nest. The PCs will find themselves sent/led/or drawn to this site depending upon which of the provided hooks is used, where in they will meet the self appointed guardian of the last remaining cairn of this once proud clan, Grok Shattershield...or at least his extremely stubborn ghost. Grok and the drake's have hit a stalemate, as he keeps reforming after they kill him, and he is unable to affect them himself. Grok offers diplomacy, insisting the PCs aid in slaying the drakes. Of course he really doesn't offer anything up as a perk for doing it, since he is not going to agree to anything leaving the cairn, as he sees it all as property of his tribe, but as least working with the ghost will keep him from trying to possess any of the PCs and attacking with no thought of the damage being done to the body he's joy-riding in.

And what of these drakes? Mistaken for green dragons by the local townsfolk, which if played up enough before sending the PCs off to the cavern could make for some interesting issues once they get there and discover they have prepared incorrectly depending on what preventative steps they take.

An extensive cavern layout, with an entire section flooded, forcing this adventure into the mechanics of swimming and fighting underwater, against a foe that moves through water just as easily as through air. Two pages are included at the end of the PDF with the intention of being printed for each player at the table, so that everyone has handy notes at fingertip to remind them of penalties for swimming, movement, visibility, attack...etc.

Short, sweet and to the point. Just enough fluff to build the encounters up and give us a history to the cairn, as well as those little pieces here and there of description that one would expect from the company that keeps giving us the Dungeon Dressing series. Detailed carvings in the wall depicting previous orc glories, specific details to areas of scattered bones throughout the cairn (as opposed to “There are bones.” over and over again). A small handful of potential seeds and thoughts to take this somewhere beyond the scope of what is written here, and to further utilize the NPCs of the local Baron and his trusted servant who initially are used to hire the PCs to deal with the dragon threat.

The beauty of a product like this is that it can be taken straight as it is and run, entertain a group for an evening and be done, no questions asked, and everyone had a blast. It can also be developed with very little effort to be a full blown adventure of its own, having the PCs encounter the drakes on their own, before ever finding the cairn or the town, perhaps a history with the Severed Ear Clan itself. And, best of all, it is designed to be tucked into a campaign easily, which is always a major plus in a product of this nature.

Extensively bookmarked, which always pleases me to no end, and of course the Raging Swan checklist at the opening of the book. I had to bring up the checklist, as it got me wondering the last time I reviewed a book from this publisher, what are they going to do when that list outgrows the page? Personally, I can't until it does, as the Raging Swan imprint rarely lets me down when it comes to solid quality, and delivering exactly what they promise with each product. An easy 5 stars and well worth the price of admission. This is an excellent side quest, and more than enough of a unique challenge to keep a party entertained...I mean come on, how often do you find yourself underwater on a drake hunt?

-EDIT

Make sure you follow the link at the top of the thread in the product description to go grab the free enhancement, player versions of the cavern map, as well as versions without the grid overlay.


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4/5

Threats From Beyond, the latest addition to the Mythic Menagerie series from Super Genius Games brings us 8 new threats for the outsider classification. Very good artwork for each creature is always a plus, although I really wish a few more of them had been done in color as opposed to grayscale. Formatting follows the 2 column layout, with a few editing glitches here and there (spell lists not lining up in one of the statblocks, an errant letter left behind from a deleted sentence, and the word bite not having its “e” in the special abilities for Black Dog).

First creature up is the Black Dog, a creature a great deal of us should be familiar with, and I have to say I like the treatment of it here. It's simple, straight forward and true to what the legends of this creature are at their core. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the art conveys the ferocity and overall odd darkness of this particular creature.

The Prismatic Couatl offers up a more chaotic variant to the stricter standard Couatl, and earns my knock for wishing to have seen a color piece of art. The art is fantastic, I just really would have loved to have seen this beast in its full glory. A very cool special ability in the shedding of scales to form a cloud that brings on confusion and glitterdust. The Prismatic Couatl also caused me a moment of confusion in that it covers a page and a half, but following the 2 column layout of reading it is not entirely apparent at first where the entry ends and the next begins. Once you realize how the layout handles this, it ceases to be a problem.

Next up is the Daemon Shax, visually answering that age old question of just what would the child of a goblin and a chimp look like? Lol. The Shax Daemon gets its jollies leading folks to ruin and death at their own hands, helped along by the wickedly cool Suicide gaze special ability that causes those who fail Will save after meeting its gaze to attempt to end their lives. Followed by the Demon, Karkinide, or Crab Demon. A monstrous crablike nightmare of four legs, two humanoid arms and a giant set of pincers, averaging around 7 feet in height, 5 foot in width...and continuing to grow as they age. Very efficient in combat when it comes to utilizing the numbers game against their foes, these demons stack bonuses with each other the more they can get involved in a conflict. Do not get yourself cornered by these things.

The Black Charger can best be described as what a centaur would have been if born in hell. Sadistic and aggressive, these creatures relish the opportunity to challenge new foes, and are at home on the battlefield. Hate Spirits offer up possibly the coolest origin story out of the collection, as they are formed when a powerful being of worship is destroyed while feeling hatred. The immense emotional survives the death of the being, forming into a Hate Spirit, who has an interesting attack form. Its claws and bite do no physical damage, but rather inflict a random curse (small random list supplied).

Hounds of Abaddon are one disturbing looking creature, with the body of a powerful dog roughly the size of a bear, missing its head. In place of a head floats a skeletal powerful jaw. They hunt like wolves, utilizing the pack mentality to formulate attacks upon stronger foes, or drawing out the fear and hopelessness in weaker targets.

We end with the Traveler...an odd creature that I am not sure is properly represented by the artwork depicting it. I can't lie here, I took one look at the artwork and thought tapeworm, instantly. After reading through its entry my thoughts changed, somewhat. The Traveler is a Huge outsider that is basically a long super thin ribbon shaped life form with tiny (in proportion to its main body) hands and eye stalks covering it. It has the capacity to do exactly what you are thinking from its name, travel. Between planes specifically, unerringly, and yes, it can take passengers, if they are willing to pay the cost.

So, wrapping up, some really cool designs, with the occasional editing mishap. Art for every creature, some better than others. Am thinking along the lines of a 4 star for this collection, as there were a few cool creatures here, but also a few not so thrilling (I'm looking at you Black Charger and Traveler)..add to that the occasional editing hiccup and yeah, I'm settling at 4 stars. If Outsiders are your cup of tea however, this just might be a 5 star for you folks, so pick it up and check it out.


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