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Excellent artwork, disappointing presentation


I finally received my copy in the mail several days ago, and I have some seriously mixed feelings. I was tempted not to post this out of respect, but a few things bothered me enough that I eventually felt the need to share.

First off, I want to say that as a professional illustrator and Wayne Reynolds fan, I really appreciated the depth and breadth of work in this book. Rarely does one see this many sketches, particularly thumbnails, as well as in-process pieces. The sheer volume of artwork really helps to show Reynolds' thought processes, as well as his growth as an artist. In these respects, this is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it for these reasons.

Unfortunately, what the book has in content it sorely lacks in presentation. Nearly half of the images in the book are blurry, pixelated, or both, and look as if they were taken directly from Reynolds' website. In the section that displays his sketches and finished paintings of the Pathfinder iconic characters, many of the sketches were not properly adjusted after scanning, and you can still see the original background as a grey shape that awkwardly bleeds over the edges of the new paper texture.

In addition, with a number of pieces later in the book (his painting for the Black Gate website's "Lyssa" character, for example), the images were badly scanned, and you can still see the texture of the illustration board they were painted on, along with nicks in the painting surface. One could argue that this was done for artistic effect, but it's downplayed enough that it just looks sloppy.

In all, while there's a wealth of great artwork in this book, I can't seem to wrap my head around how a book that was delayed for so long looks like it was rushed out the door.

Did they even playtest this?


My first venture into Fourth Edition D&D took the form of an open play event, using the new Red Box Starter Set. Five of the pre-generated characters were selected by the players in the group, and we set to work.

The first thing I noticed was that the PCs were not only more or less dropped directly into the dungeon, but were railroaded into the first encounter. The first encounter, along with every other encounter in the module, seemed to drag on for an unnecessarily long time, and was much past the party's level of ability. The final encounter ended in a total party kill, as did the final encounters of all but one of the other three groups running the scenario (the one group had one out of four PCs survive).

Also, the dungeon seemed to be hastily designed, with nonsensical encounters, oddly designed trap scenarios, and mix-and-match flavor. All in all, my impression of the Essentials Starter Set was one of wasted potential--what I played was a rushed, poorly thought-out, slapdash attempt to re-create the old-school red box feel.

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Solid product


Fantastic Maps: The Temple Mound, from Rite Publishing, is a no-frills, two-map pack detailing the interior and exterior of a large, open encounter area. While slightly plain-looking in appearance, the Temple Mound map allows for a variety of scenarios to take place, and can be adapted to any number of games and settings.

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Dead men tell no tales.


The first installment of my favorite comic of all time, by my favorite artist of all time. Published by the only company I trust. Bliss.

Tight artwork, tight story, solid graphic design, cool.

All your base are belong to us.


This kills me. Seriously, I'm bleeding, man. This is exactly the sort of 3.75 we need, and it's definitely what I was looking for. I mean, sure, it's nasty converting old characters, but It's a hell of a lot less nasty than converting to 4e. Half-Orcs are no longer *nerfed*, and I suddenly have the urge to play gnomes.

Plus the setting is awesome. And it's, for all intents and purposes, homegrown. I f@#!in' love you guys.

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Return of the Dragon


Oh, hell yes. I absolutely LOVED kobold quarterly. It really remided me of the old (pre-Wizards) Dragon magazine, mostly because of the b&w artwork and text-heavy articles. Pictures aren't all that they're cracked up to be. I don't think I'm going to regret this one at all.
My only "complaint" is that there's no print version. Even so, it's still definitely worthy of the five stars I gave it.