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Own 3, have more on-orderLaithoron —
Simply put, my players and I love these dice trays. Since we play in the living room instead of the dining room, these trays go a long way towards preventing dice from falling off lap desks, end tables, and the crowded edges of the central cocktail table. While they are large (about the size of a dinner plate) they fit comfortably on the arms of my leather sofas without compromising people's elbow room.
In addition to their obvious purpose for corralling errant die rolls, they are also great for clean-up purposes. Whenever it's necessary to swap out a map or clean-up at the end of a session, we simply place our pawns, pencils, and minis in the dice trays and our clutter is out-of-the-way.
The only improvement I could possibly think of would be to make the side rails a little bit taller. Doing so would allow us to keep all of our pewter and plastic minis and pawns standing up instead of having to lay the taller ones on their backs when we stack them.
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)Jon Brazer Enterprises
Our Price: $5.95Add to Cart
Great content, but prefer better bindingLaithoron —
Other reviewers have already summed up how immensely useful the content of this book is. There's no need for me to rehash that. The few typos and lack-luster art would not be enough for me to deduct more than half a star.
The reason then that I am rating this at 4-stars rather than 5 is for the printed copy of the book...
Unless the printing method has changed, the copy I received has a folded and stapled binding with non-glossy pages. Had I known that before-hand, I would have simply purchased the PDF-only and printed my own copy. I much prefer the more durable type of bindings used for the Adventure Path volumes, and appreciate the fact that I can open them even to the foreword or bestiary and still have them lay flat on my desk without issue. The same cannot be said for a stapled binding such as this.
As feedback then, I would just like to say that I find far more value in paying a few extra dollars for a good-quality binding than saving what amounts to a couple cups of coffee.
6/04/2011: Note that as of the 2nd printing, this book is now perfect-bound! Great to see customer feedback implemented so quickly! Adjusting rating to 4.5 stars for the book too which it up to 5.
Note: One small thing to keep in mind when using this book is that the hexes are of somewhat different size than those in Kingmaker. They are 12-miles to the side, whereas the ones in Kingmaker were intended to be 12-miles from center-to-center. The difference is 375-sq miles vs. 125-sq miles. Very little (if any) effect on gameplay, but I figured it was worth mentioning in a review. More info on the difference here.
Best Flipmat YetLaithoron —
This is what I would like to more of from this series: maps that have different yet complimentary images on each side. (We all have plenty to choose from with blank surfaces on the reverse side at this point.) In this case we get a small island on one side and a sandy beach on the other.
Unlike the maps of buildings and structures, the inclusion of only one tiny room on the island-side makes it very easy to use a more ambiguous scale with this map. Using a 5-foot scale, you get a nice little hideaway with small trees and scrub. Need something bigger for actual exploration? Treat the sqaures as large to colossal and simply use a token to represent the entire party. For encounters then just "zoom in" using other maps in your collection.
The only improvement I could hope for would be to finally be able to acquire these without the folds. Naturally, something like that wouldn't be feasible for shipping, although with GenCon and DragonCon around the corner, perhaps unfolded maps could be convention-only specials...
Can we get this in the Pathfinder RPG?Laithoron —
There are some really solid and well-thought feats & weapons in this inexpensive little PDF. The mechanics used to represent fencing are great and could easily be adapted to fighting styles such as Sword & Board with some ingenuity.
An affordable must have for swashbucklers and bards. I'd like to see further supplements in this vein.
Since adding the combat pad to my 7-player D&D 3.5 game, I have noticed a remarkable increase in organization when it comes to ensuring everyone gets their proper turn in combat. In addition, now that there's a way to track the delaying and readying of actions, the players are making greater use of such tactics.
The only changes I would like would be for the "Combat Pad" header and the "open mind games" footer to cut into the useable area less. With 7 characters in my party, that initiative column could really use the extra 2-inches that would liberate. Similarly, the Notes box could be made taller and wider by extending the work-surfaces closer to the margins.
A sturdier backing would be great so that the pad could be leaned up against a stack of books without flexing too much as You try to move the magnets.
Lastly (and this is a personal preference more than a shortcoming of the product) I would prefer to have permanent sliders running in tracks for the round and turn indicators. Of course, that would be more difficult to manufacture and increase the price so it's not that big of a deal.
Even though there is room for improvement, I still have to give this a 5-star simply because of the sheer positive impact on my game!
Very ImpressedLaithoron —
I just purchased this book yesterday at my FLGS and I'm very impressed by the quality of the map designs. There are a total of 5 sites: 2 large castles, 1 medium-sized castle, a tall, thick citadel and smaller keep.
The two large castles are vast sites. The first has a total of 7 levels (2 basement levels, 4 floors and the parapets). Each level of this keep is spread across 2 pages.
The second large castle has 4 levels (3 floors plus parapets) but each floor takes up 4 pages!
For those of You who will want to scan the maps, the taller castle has a generous gutter between the pages. The gutter is narrower on the 4-page levels of the shorter castle but it's still sufficient. The maps for the other 3 sites will be easier to scan as You won't need to stitch the images together.
I found that a 300 dpi scan followed by the Despeckle and then Reduce Noise filters in Photoshop produced a passable battle-map at 72dpi. (72dpi makes the grid print as 1" squares.)
In addition to the excellent maps (i.e. the "crunch"), the author also presented a good deal of "fluff" to go along with each site. Each castle is described in first-person narrative by a resident or visitor who even describes some of the people who live there or the history of the place as they know it. The inclusion of such a treatment of each site (complete with statted NPCs) was a pleasant surprise.
Something else I appreciate even more was that the maps and NPC/histories were not inextricably linked. In otherwords, unlike with trying to retool a WotC-published module, the light treatment of the sites means that the DM/GM won't need to spend ages crossing out the proper names of locations, deities and NPCs that might not exist in their world. In fact, this is partly what drew me in. There was enough flavor there to inspire me to contemplate possible settings and adaptations for my own campaign world without so much of someone else's heavily entrenched story that I felt stifled.
Expensive mistakeLaithoron —
When they say wet erase ONLY they mean it. I just had to get rid of my mat that I had for the past 15 years after one of the kids I'm teaching to play D&D thought they could use dry-erase markers on it (like we do on the Flip Mats). :(
The greater size and soft, rollable nature of these mats are nice but I'm not going to replace my old one because there's just too great a risk of botching the markers again. Plus it's kind of nice being able to use my whiteboard and Sharpie markers on the flip mats. If only I could have it both ways...
Great Mat: Little room for improvementLaithoron —
Initially, I was concerned that folding (rather than rolling) might cause my dungeon drawings to rub off. However, this has not happened even when they rub up against the surface of any of the glossy, leather or cloth-bound rulebooks in my duffel bag. I suppose I can thank my Sharpies for that.
At 22 x 28 squares, it's big enough for *most* encounters but truly large battles may be a bit problematic. I'm running the Red Hand of Doom right now and some of the battle maps end up cramped on space. For instance, Vraath Keep fits, I can just barely squeeze Skull Gorge Bridge on there (if I use the margins) but the Fane of Tiamat is actually 1 square wider than if I tiled two of these mats width-wise and resorted to using the 1-inch margins as extra squares.
The only improvements that I could suggest are as follows:
* Offer a version with the square grid on both sides. The versatility to use hex or square grids is nice, but most groups are either going to use one or the other, not both.
* Since the mats fan-fold along the long (28 square) axis, another 10 squares could be added without increasing the folded size of the mat. Unlike adding an extra fold/flap to the width (which would put too much strain on the laminate when folded) a 4th fold/flap on the length would still lay flat when folded and wouldn't buckle. Players could then simply tile mats together for huge dungeons. (Note, I wouldn't make the mat physically longer than 36" as that would be longer than most desks/dining room tables are wide and we don't want players bumping into a stiff mat that overhangs the table's edge and knocking miniatures over.)