Sin Spawn

bugleyman's page

RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 7 Season Star Voter, 8 Season Star Voter. **** Pathfinder Society GM. 8,610 posts (8,734 including aliases). 82 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 8 Organized Play characters. 16 aliases.



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Solid, good-looking screen

4/5

This is a solid, good-looking screen with well-considered info inside. I especially appreciate starship combat panel. If you're a Stafinder GM who uses a screen, buy this.

Why not five stars? Simple...it's not landscape. Portrait screens are so 2009. ;-)

(****-)


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Good looking and functional, but...

3/5

...but as with the squares on the Starfinder Basic Terrain flip-map, the hexes here are too big...nearly 1.25 inches, in fact. This doesn't hurt quite as much as it would for a grid, as you're unlikely to try to line it up with anything else or lay templates, etc. down on it, but it is still unfortunate.

Also, I don't see why this had to be as large as it is...as a "basic" product, keeping the price down by using a regular 24"x30" map would have been the way to go. Plus my bigger basic -- which folds the same way this does -- has an odd flap that often gets hung up on things.

All that said, the art is good and it gets the job done. It's just a needlessly flawed product that should have been a no-brainer.

(**---)


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Great product

4/5

A Core Rulebook pawn set is a great idea, especially for Starfinder. Covering the PC/NPC bases without having to buy an entire box set is a niche Pathfinder still hasn't really covered, and this is doubly helpful for a new game in a less common genre.

The art itself is great and exactly what you would expect. If, like me, you have almost no sci-fi themed minis, then this set is a no-brainer for Starfinder GMing.

One small downside: The pawns are NOT numbered, though there there is a set icon, and multiples of the same pawn display that icon in different colors.

(****-)


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Gotta imagine something went wrong with the printing...

2/5

...because the squares on this aren't even close to an inch; they're much too large. In fact, the 10-inch side is less than nine squares long! Not a huge deal if you're using it by itself, but forget lining it up with another flip mat or overlaying with map tiles, AoE templates, etc. Coupled with the fact that this feels like a different material than any of my (many) Pathfinder/Gamemastery maps, and I'm guessing they used a new printer. Clearly there are some kinks to work out.

Printing issues aside, the map itself is a pretty bad design for a basic flip-mat -- it would have been much more useful to new Starfinder GMs to have a basic grid on one side, and the flip side be a hex-map star field. Yes, I know there is a separate product for that, but it could have easily been covered here.

Finally, the art that IS here is mediocre and lacking detail. This product simply isn't up to the standards of modern Paizo Flip-Mats. Unless you're an avowed completest, avoid this one.

(**---)


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It's the little things in life...

4/5

I just scooped this up at the FLGS (Game Depot in Tempe, AZ). One of the owners mentioned that she had to specifically order it -- her distributor didn't send any copies as they do other new Pathfinder stuff. You may have to hunt for it.

Anyway, this is about what you'd expect…a smaller CRB, but with half the price of entry. The page stock seems identical to the full-size CRB, so it's a dense little book. The print is small, but manageable, though I'd avoid it if you use/need bifocals.

There are no obvious changes from the full-size book, and of course it is Pathfinder, so it may be cruncher than some might like. But at this point, you should know what you're getting.

My main concern is how the binding will hold up. The book does have "pre-scored" crease lines designed to limit strain on the binding, which is a good sign.

(****-)


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Squares are not one inch!

2/5

This is a great map -- I used to own the original -- but when I tried to use a printed ship tile (from the excellent Map Pack: Boats and Ships) in conjunction with the water side, I made an unpleasant discovery: The squares aren't an inch. They're ~4-5% too small. Not an issue if you're going to use the map by itself, but if you want use it with another flip-mat, or say, overlay some dungeon tiles, the squares don't line up.

As much as I love the idea of bringing back classic flip-mats, the square sizing issue is simply too big a blow to usability for me. Hopefully Paizo gets this sorted out for future flip-mat classics releases.

(**---)


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Trouble in the fold

4/5

Long has the world needed a larger flip-mat. Too many maps flaunted their 31" dimensions in defiance. Finally, Paizo heard the cries of the people and created Bigger Basic. And it was good. The people rejoiced.

Why, then, is this not a five-star product? The folds. Not sticking to whole-number multiples of 8" or 10" length and width means there are fold lines quite close (3") from the edge of the unfolded map. These folds are more difficult than normal to keep flat when the map is in use. Further, when the map is folded, there is a "flap" along one side which is surprisingly effective at catching on other flip-mats/objects.

I would have much preferred a size of, say, 32" x 30". Yes, that would have meant the maximum dimension of the map increased by only two inches; however, from a PFS point-of-view, at least half the time when a flip-mat is too small, it is two small by two or fewer squares. 32" x 30" would have, for instance, accommodated the original Blakros Museum while still folding into uniform 8" x 10" panels.

This product was sorely needed, and I really appreciate Paizo recognizing and meeting the need. Buy it. Just be aware that it is stopped (frustratingly) short of a home run by a questionable design choice.

(****-)


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Just okay

3/5

The Good:
* Clearly expressed site-based adventure ready for easy drop-in to an ongoing game.
* Timeline of suggested events helps make the keep feel "lived-in."
* Every encounter includes scaling instructions.

The bad:
* The map is the weak point of this offering, which is problematic in a site-based adventure. It isn't bad, per se, just very routine. One main path through most of the areas, lots of rectangular rooms going off in seemingly arbitrary directions, etc. This is pretty much the sort of map I'd draw if I were making it up as I went.
* Minor editing errors. Some rooms described as having columns show up as such on the map, while others do not. Rooms that are 30' on a side are described as 'small," whereas elsewhere rooms of similar size are referred to as "large."
* Flavor mismatches with "baseline" elements of Pathfinder monsters. For example, plenty of goblin writing. Not a big deal, but something to watch for...

I picked this up based on the strength of Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors, which was my first real exposure to Raging Swan. While that product was fantastic, I found this one to be merely okay.

(***--)


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$2.45 well spent!

5/5

The Good:
* Neat, evocative setting
* Includes a great map
* Enough detail to get things moving, but not overly specific
* Neat little tidbits to discover sprinkled throughout

The bad:
* Separate PDFs for print/screen; would have preferred to see layers
* That's really the only negative I can come up with...which says a lot

This product was my first real exposure to Raging Swan (I think I got a PDF of theirs long ago as part of a package and just filed it away), but it won't be my last. Just a well-done, immediately useful product at a fair price.

(*****)


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The line has promise, but this release is all over the place.

3/5

Full disclosure: I do not have (nor am I planning to purchase) the entire Icons of the Realms set. This review is based on my purchase of a single booster, supplemented by a few singles. I own:

#001 Rock Gnome Female Wizard
#007 Mane Demon
#008 Human Paladin
#009 Sun Elf Guard
#011 Human Zhentarim Bandit
#012 Hobgoblin Fighter
#013 Human Female Barbarian
#017 Green Hag
#019 Human Red Wizard
#026 Stone Giant Elder
#028 Pegasus
#031 Green Dragon
#036 Half Red Dragon Fighter

The good:

* These minis are very durable, maintaining the flexibility of previous D&D releases. It's hard to imagine these not standing up to years of use.
* Sculpts and paint. The good figures in this set -- such as most of the dragons -- are as good as I've ever seen in pre-paints.

The bad:
* Price. $4 a mini is a bitter pill.
* Sculpts and paint. What, wasn't that a pro? Yes, but the bad figures in this set -- such as most of the commons -- are as bad as I've ever seen in pre-paints. The face on #011 Human Zhentarim Bandit...*shudder*
* Figure selection could use some work, especially since this is a "re-launch" of the line. How does this set not have a skeleton? Or a zombie? Or a wolf? How is there an Ogre Mage, but not an Ogre? This was a wonderful opportunity to cover the major bases, but they missed it.

This line has my attention, but they need to bring the sculpt and paint job quality of the commons up quite a bit. For now, Pathfinder Battles is a better bet, despite the comparatively brittle plastic employed in that line.

(***--)


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Worthy release in the Battles line

4/5

Full disclosure: I do not have (nor am I planning to purchase) the entire Lost Coast set. This review is based on my purchase of two boosters at the FLGS, in which I received the following minis:

06 Small Water Elemental
10 Firepelt Cougar
11 Lamashtu Cultist
13 Lamashtu Thug #2
14 Shifty Noble
21 Sinspawn Champion
27 Forest Drake
30 Troll

The Good:

* The sculpts are very detailed.
* The paint jobs are generally quite good.
* This set has a strong selection of minis with well-considered rarities, with only a few questionable decisions (two boggards?).
* Packaging is very good -- there was no breakage in either booster, with each mini individually wrapped.

The bad:

* The paint job on my shifty noble was poor; the figure completely lacks any detail on the face. It's just a fleshy blob. Easily fixed, but kinda defeats the purpose of buying pre-paints.
* These minis are still pretty fragile, especially protrusions like the cougar's tail. Throwing these in the bin with my D&D minis will definitely result in some breakage. I appreciate there is a trade-off between sculpt detail and durability, but my preference would be err a little more on the side of durability. This is especially disappointing because WizKids seemed to have this issue sorted in Undead Horde.
* The Price: $4 a mini is a bit steep, but it appears to be the new normal for the industry.

All in all one of the better entries in the series, both in terms of figure utility and sculpt/paint quality.

(****-)


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Good scenario; great for Halloween.

4/5

Just ran this on October 30th; great fit for Halloween.

We ran with four players, high sub-tier. Things were pretty easy until the final battle, which was a stiff (but not overwhelming) challenge.

Pros:
* Oozes flavor. Lots of neat little descriptive flourishes really make things easier on the GM.
* Some hard choices can come up during negotiations.
* Came in right at four hours.
* Secondary success condition isn't a gimme.

Cons:
* Some of the pertinent info is a bit scattered around the manuscript.
* The descriptions of the hazards in the first room are a little jumbled.
* Many seemingly unnecessary changes in ceiling height (20'! 12'! 10!') were a bit of a pain to keep track of...

(****-)


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Promising, but could use a revision

3/5

Wow, are these a great idea. The implementation, however, could use a bit of work. That said, it's nice to see this product realized, even in a somewhat-less-than-ideal form.

Pros:
-----
* Price. These won't break the bank, and they definitely add something over an empty grid.
* The doors are great, especially if given a quick ink wash. Combined with a bit of poster tack as the instructions suggest, they are ideal for use on just about any 1" grid. In fact, I wish they sold the doors separately, maybe in a few different styles. Hmmmm...

Cons:
------
* The walls need to be 25-30% taller to hit that sweet spot of looking clearly like a dungeon but still allowing easy manipulation of minis. As it stands, these can look more like a field-stone fence than a dungeon wall.
* Slightly higher quality casting would have made these much more user-friendly. As it is, you definitely want to carefully cut away the flash before use. On the other hand, that's inexpensive, mass-produced plastic for you.

(***--)


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Bored of the Dragon Queen

2/5

WotC bravely brings its tradition of mediocre adventures in the era of 5th edition with this wholly unremarkable product. Unfortunately, it does so on ground which has already been tread by the (superior) Red Hand of Doom.

Pros:
* High quality full-color book with heavy paper.
* Most of the art is good.
* First major adventure available for the new edition.

Cons:
* Plenty of editing mistakes, some seemingly related to the fluid nature of the rules during development; Others...not so much.
* Punishingly difficult in the early going.
* Zero PDF/eBook availability (at least at the time of this writing) is a MAJOR disappointment. -1 star.

(**---)


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A second strong showing for Fifth Edition

4/5

Dungeons and Dragons comes surging back looking much more like the game I've always wanted.

Pros:
* Huge book jam-packed full of monsters.
* Most of the art is fantastic.
* Consists largely of compact, easy-to-use stat-blocks.

Cons:
* No "monsters by Challenge" index. Huh?
* Some monsters are buried -- seemingly arbitrarily so -- in an appendix.
* Zero PDF/eBook availability (at least at the time of this writing) is a MAJOR disappointment.

(****-)


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Functional and well-built, but utilitarian

4/5

Pros
---------------
* Very sturdy.
* Good selection of DM info.
* Fair price.

Cons
---------------
* I'd prefer a landscape screen. Pretty please?
* The art is a collage of recycled iconic portraits, which probably helped keep costs down, but I would have preferred something a bit more inspiring. After all, the players are going to be staring at this thing quite a bit...

(****-)


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D&D is back. Yeah, baby!

4/5

Dungeons and Dragons comes surging back looking much more like the game I've always wanted.

Pros:
*This is D20 boiled down to the essentials with a smattering of the best rules from prior editions. It runs fast and doesn't introduce too much "processing overhead," letting the DM keep the focus on the story.

*Concentration reins in both complexity and caster power.

*Raises the bar on art (most of it, anyway; see Cons) and graphic design.

*Lightly armored, dex-focused melee is finally a viable option from the start.

*Plenty of race and class variety right out of the gate. All the important bases are covered. *cough* gnomes *cough*

Cons:
*The halfling art. It's just not good in a creepy, giant-head sort of way.

*Zero PDF/eBook availability (at least at the time of this writing) is a MAJOR disappointment.

*Price. $50 is a bit steep. The PHB should be subsidized a bit to lower barriers to entry. In my opinion, $40 would have been ideal. At the very least, $50 should have included a nice, saddle-stitched binding.

(****-)


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The place to start

5/5

If you're only buying one flip-mat, buy this. Lots of blank real estate, accepts pretty much any pen, folds down to 8" x 10". What's not to love?

While it's true some of the older products in the line had a blank side, that practice has come to an end, meaning this is your best option if you just want a portable, erasable play space. I'd suggest getting two, as together they will allow you to map pretty much anything.

(*****)

By the way, there is a run of these maps made of lighter-than-intended card stock. I have two that fit this description, and while they've held up OK, they're definitely not going to last as long as my other flip-mats. You can identify the "too thin" ones because the map is folded in a C, rather than a Z.

Edit: Both of these guys have now given up the ghost, with ink soaking through at the corners. The good news is I've since bought two more of these, and they're on a much heavier stock. It seems like the light-than-intended maps are out of the distribution channel.


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Great game, mediocre Starter Set

3/5

I have read the contents of the set and DM'ed a group through the first section of the adventure. I really like the way the new rules function, but I'm focusing this review on the contents of the Starter Set. There are four components:

  • The adventure (64 pages) -- It feels like the authors are going through the motions, right down to the plot hook (you're hired as a caravan guard). I appreciate that this is a Starter Set, but they could have been a little more creative without making the product any less accessible. I can't see myself using this once the Monster Manual and DMG are available.
  • The rule book (32 pages) -- The bare minimum of in-play rules is provided. There is no character generation. I wish they had simply included a printed copy of Basic. Instead, they provided a not-quite-subset of basic, which seems needlessly confusing. Even if it meant bumping the price, a perfect-bound Basic would have been something that remained useful once the PHB is available. As it is, this rule book simply doesn't have enough meat to warrant keeping around.
  • The dice -- A typical set of "swirly" blue polyhedral dice (though oddly there is only one D10...was it really worth saving $.25?)
  • The pregens -- These are the best part of the set. Nicely fleshed-out with just enough back-story, printed on high quality paper.

    Overall, I'd advise anyone who has any experience with RPGs at all to skip this, and just download the free Basic PDF instead.

    (***--)

    P.S.: Come on, guys...books need covers.


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    Great Idea...

    3/5

    ...so-so execution.

    I love the design of this product, and I believe they went with a good mix of terrain types. Unfortunately, only the dungeon floor pattern is light/sparse enough to really show wet erase markers. Alas, if only the other textures were lighter and/or less busy, this would easily be a five-star product. As it is, you're better off sticking with Flip-Mat: Basic.

    (***--)


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    ...and the board ate my review.

    4/5

    One of these days, I'll learn not to edit reviews directly in my web browser. :P

    Short version: The story really gets rolling in this installment. Nice mix of challenges and varied solutions, all against a flavorful backdrop. Plenty of back story...which, for a change, the players may actually have a chance to learn.

    Great scenario, looking forward to part 3.

    Spoiler:
    Employs mythic.

    (****-)


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    Balanced scenario

    3/5

    This scenario is a basic "Go run this list of errands" outing, but at least the errands are interesting and varied. The encounters are well fleshed out, most offer multiple solutions, and all include enough information for the GM to handle player improvisation. There is plenty of opportunity for good role-playing.

    The combats seem to be a bit on the easy side, but then again I did run for a group of six experienced players with well-built characters.

    Better-than-average editing (at least for a Pathfinder Society scenario).

    Spoiler:
    Yes, the information broker is Grandmaster Torch.

    (***--)


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    Keep the setting; nuke the rest from orbit

    3/5

    This review is based on reading the entire book, playing one level of the dungeon (The Accursed Halls), and running two others (The Forgotten Library and the Engima Vaults)

    The layout, art, and cartography in this product are excellent. The material on town of Thornkeep and environs is useful and well-done. Points of interest in the surrounding countryside, NPCs, town locations, etc. -- it's all here. There is even a full-page rumors table. Overall, things are very reminiscent of the better classic D&D products.

    Once we head into the dungeons below town, however, things begin to unravel quickly. The whole dungeon feels like a series of disjointed encounters strung together with little pretense of a coherent story. Admittedly, this is to be expected to a certain degree in a project of this nature, but much of the material simply defies logic.

    The last chapter is a behind-the-scenes of the upcoming Pathfinder MMO. I personally couldn't care less, and largely ignored this section, but if you're following the development of that the game, this chapter will likely be of great interest to you.

    Overall, Thornkeep provides an excellent base of operations, then squanders it on a disjointed, sub-par dungeon crawl. Only the sheer excellence of the first half of the book saves the product from a lower rating.

    (***--)


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    Impressive entry in the Builder Series

    5/5

    This review is based on the following three minis I picked up on a whim at the FLGS:

    1 Skeleton
    2 Lady Ghoul
    4 Zombie

    This second installment in the Builder Series represents an ideal selection of well-sculpted commonly-used figures. Just as in We Be Goblins, there is a lot to like here:

    * The plastic is flexible where it needs to be (weapons, etc), but remains hard in the bases.
    * The paint jobs are very strong, with effective use of both dry-brushes and washes.
    * The cost per figure is reasonable, and the individual packaging makes a figure or two an easy impulse purchase (though it's possible that isn't an improvement, exactly ;D).

    One minor complaint remains:

    * There are black plastic "blobs" where some of the minis attach to the bases.

    ...but that's not enough to knock off a star.

    It's hard to imagine a more ideal theme for a Builder Series set. Recommended without hesitation.

    (*****)


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    Reflections of...the way life used to be

    4/5

    Gm'ed this for a PFS group over three sessions.

    The good:
    -------------
    * Nidal!
    * Fun collection of flavorful environments
    * Smooth challenge ramp
    * Good mix of role-playing and exploration
    * Some potentially great moral conundrums

    The bad:
    ------------
    * I would have liked more on the town and NPCs (alas, page counts)
    * One encounter in particular is very brutal, especially for 3rd level PCs. You have been warned.

    Spoiler:
    GMs, I would emphasize the Boroi family tragedy to bring out the horror aspect of this tale.

    (****-)


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