Megadungeon Delver's Player Options (PFRPG) PDF


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Oooh! Shiny! Great for dungeon crawling! AND FREE.


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Looks good and the price seems fair.

Scarab Sages

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Thanks, Liz!

Dark Archive

Boy I don't know, that price is pretty steep...

Scarab Sages

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Boy I don't know, that price is pretty steep...

That's okay DM, if you really want it, I'll send you a comp review copy. :)


And reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!


Reviewed here and on DTRPG....it was expensive, but I scraped enough together to get a copy finally...


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Staggering array of reviews, KTFish/! OO You've been busy!

Scarab Sages

KTFish7 wrote:
Reviewed here and on DTRPG....it was expensive, but I scraped enough together to get a copy finally...

Thanks for the review!


Howdy. The Questioner here, reviewer of all things free.

Downloaded and reviewed.

I realize that this, my first review on the Paizo forums, has been quite critical. Of course I mean no ill-will to anyone, and I look forward to reading the other “freebies” that SGG has to offer.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner

Scarab Sages

Thanks for taking the time to write a review of our work, The Questioner!

I could be wrong (I haven't looked at every product's reviews recently, and I DO miss things occasionally), but I think this is our VERY FIRST 1-star review! That's a milestone every company is going to hit at some point, and in many ways it feels like a sign we're really growing our reach. Paizo is WAY ahead of us in terms of 1-star reviews (though like our first one, many of Paizo's are on products that also have 5-star reviews... I'm not sure if that makes it a more important milestone, or less). But it's still something I knew would happen eventually, and now I never need worry about it again!

Bubbly all around!


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Nothing I love more than having my integrity challenged by another reviewer simply because they happen to have a different opinion than mine. Always a good way to say Hi.

Owen, congrats on knocking that hurdle out of the way.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to write a review of our work, The Questioner!

I could be wrong (I haven't looked at every product's reviews recently, and I DO miss things occasionally), but I think this is our VERY FIRST 1-star review! That's a milestone every company is going to hit at some point, and in many ways it feels like a sign we're really growing our reach. Paizo is WAY ahead of us in terms of 1-star reviews (though like our first one, many of Paizo's are on products that also have 5-star reviews... I'm not sure if that makes it a more important milestone, or less). But it's still something I knew would happen eventually, and now I never need worry about it again!

Bubbly all around!

I hate to remind you of your company's missteps, but you have a product that's received multiple 1-star reviews. Behold! Mythic Menagerie: Winter Ravagers! I wrote one of those reviews, even.

Scarab Sages

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
I hate to remind you of your company's missteps, but you have a product that's received multiple 1-star reviews. Behold! Mythic Menagerie: Winter Ravagers! I wrote one of those reviews, even.

By gum you're right! Well I did note that I might be wrong! And actually only your review was 1-star, End gave us 1-and-a-half, but had to round down on this platform).

So I guess I'm celebrating our SECOND 1-star review!

Besides, we saw there were a lot of things done wrong in that book. You'll note we have never done anything like it, and one of our next Mythic Menageries was nominated for an ENnie.

But, yes, we've has a 1-star before,. maybe that's why I am so clam about it. :D


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Awesome to have my integrity questioned that way. And a nice "Hi!" to you too, Questioner!

Your review contains factual errors. The "3 ranks in Perception"-example shows up at no place in the pdf and no error in the vein of the above exists - the skill prerequisites are properly formatted and your example is simply false.

I've checked again my pdf. There is also not a "ton" of wasted space - the type, size and presentation of the feats is pretty much standard - landscape format, 3 columns etc. If you don't like the landscape format, that's cool, mention it. But the wasted space you imply is simply not there. Bear in mind that many people read these pdfs on smart phones and e-readers - making the font too small would detract immensely from its usability.

Yes, there's a punctuation error here and there. I mentioned as much. Bullet Points have no unified color or visual scheme since that makes them more costly to print out.

To give you an example of what I'd consider a factual error in your review:

Corridor Combatant: You failed to mention that the feat also provides a way to charge in not only a straight line. I guess that makes it even more broken in your opinion, but to me, it's the main gist of the feat. You call it "breaking the rules of charging" - I'd rather consider it a way to make charge work in a dungeon with a lot of cramped spaces. It Depends on the perspective, I guess.

Let me ask you a question: Have you understood what this pdf is? First of all, its intention is to work as a selection of feats for a megadungeon delve. Like Dragon's Delve or Rappan Athuk. That means that respective PCs can use the edge provided by these feats. Yes, they are quick and dirty, but without access to libraries, supplemental NPCs etc. I surmise that they work in their intended context.

[Sarcasm]Owen's reputation has me so in love with his design that I'm seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses. Gotcha![/Sarcasm] ;)

Kidding aside, you should note that the majority of reviews that is VERY critical of some pdfs SGG has put out is by yours truly.

I get what you're doing. You want to establish yourself by being more critical than the critical 3pp-reviewers. That's awesome per se! But what you need to do is to get some perspective of what a pdf tries to achieve in order to judge it fairly.

Also, your ramblings that amount to "all 3pps suck" imply a negative bias and undermine the valid criticism regarding minor formatting glitches among the points you make, alienating not only designers, but also readers of your reviews and making you come over as someone with a grudge and anger to vent. Personal attacks on the integrity of people don't help anyone - whether they are designers or unpaid reviewers like yours truly.

And since I don't want to repeat AGAIN the argument that most several 3pp-authors and designers also work or have worked for Paizo and that Paizo was a 3pp for a long time, I'll cut my ramble short here and hope I haven't wasted my breath on a troll.

Cheers!
Endzeitgeist


Egads!

The Questioner here; to address some of Owen', KTFish7's and Endzeitgeist's responses to my review, and to apologize.

Owen; let me make it clear that I was in no way being sarcastic or sardonic when I stated near the end of my review that I would be very surprised if this pdf (given my admittedly low opinion of it) was representative of your body of work as a whole. To measure it by your success in the industry it is clear that you're hitting your target audience. That's not a feat that any author can accomplish, and you are no doubt richer than I for it. I review free products for a reason! ;-)

Furthermore, you are absolutely correct in that Paizo has a fair share of low-rated products on the market. Every producer out there does, I'm quite sure. My review was not meant to imply that Paizo is great and that SGG isn't. Everyone misses the mark sometimes... the big fish and the little fish both, and this pdf is, in my opinion, an extreme example of one such product that has missed the mark in a big way. That's meant to be a criticism, but it's not meant to be a personal or professional offense.

KTFish7 and Endzeitgeist; while it is true that the content of your reviews baffles me, I meant it quite sincerely when I stated that the bewilderingly-positive nature of the existing reviews could not be a matter of dubious authenticity. I was speaking quite literally and I meant to insinuate nothing. I do not question your integrity as reviewers! It is equally true, however, that I would absolutely suspect the existing reviews of being more or less blatant corporate propaganda if I had never heard of your names before, or if I did not have access to your established body of reviews here on the forums. I hope you will forgive me if I attribute the positive nature of your reviews to a predisposed inclination to enjoy or appreciate Super Genius Games' products. In business, that predisposition is called "good will," and large companies spend a lot of money to cultivate it. If Pepsi releases a new product, consumers are statistically more likely to receive it well than they would an identical product manufactured by a lesser-known corporate entity. When I express that I feel that this "good will" effect is responsible or partially responsible for the positive reception of this product, it is only because that is the professional conclusion that I've come to. You're welcome to disagree, and I mean absolutely no offense. I'm just trying to make sense of such an extraordinary set of reviews describing what I feel is a very poorly-authored product.

Endzeitgeist; given how critical and objective you can be in so many of your reviews (including many of the early SSG reviews), it was quite shocking to me that you seemed to have taken so little issue with so many of the incredibly problematic feats contained in this project when so few of your prior reviews seemed in any way prone to "glossing over" major design flaws... which I feel that you have done here. Again, you are welcome to disagree. I am offering an explanation, not inviting a debate.

Also, I do fully understand the megadungeon "theme" of the product and take no issue with it. Unless I miss your point, I don't understand where that might suggest that the poorly-designed feats contained therein any less poorly designed. In a dungeon or out of it, these feats are bad. Not conceptually, of course - but bad in terms of execution, balance, originality, and adherence to Pathfinder RPG conventions (both mechanically and in terms of formatting).

In any case, you're wrong about my being wrong! :-P

The "3 ranks in Perception" example was an example of the formatting, not a copy/pasted example of the text itself. Try searching again for the text: "1 rank in Knowledge (dungeoneering)" or 1 rank Knowledge (dungeoneering)." You'll find that it appears multiple times. Despite your claim to the contrary, the prerequisite lines in this product are formatted in an incorrect and nonstandard manner, and are punctuated like sentences. There are other errors as well, such as the way caster level prerequisites are presented. See the spoiler below for examples.

Formatting Examples:

This is an example of standard formatting:

Earth Dragon
Prerequisites: Caster level 1st, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 1 rank
Benefit: ...

Conversely, this is an example of the formatting in the product:

Earth Dragon
Prerequisites: Caster level 1, 1 rank Knowledge (dungeoneering).
Benefit: ...

(Also, although it's not a formatting issue, it's worth mentioning that metamagic feats never have caster level prerequisites.)

Regarding Corridor Combatant, I wasn't criticizing the feat when I said that the feat allowed you to "break the charging rules." Lots of feats allow you to break rules - that's what they do.

What's more, I'm not a troll! And I'm not at all attempting to establish any kind of notoriety as a infamously critical reviewer. The supremely critical nature of my review is also supremely objective, and I attribute it to the supremely poor quality of this particular item. Let me define for you the way I review a product (and the way I'd expect any objective reviewer to do the same).

That definition is: "on its own merits." To my mind, a fair reviewer ought to review an obscure third-party publication with the same eye that he or she would review one of Paizo's products. Or Hasbro's. After all, a product reviewer reviews products, not publishers. And if Paizo had published this product, the fanbase would be up in arms. If Paizo had published this product, I'd have given it the same review. What's more... if the price of this product were $100, I'd still give it the same review. Heck, if Owen K. C. Stephens gave anyone who downloaded it $100, I'd still give it the same review (with a suggestion that everyone ought to download it and then promptly delete it)! I review products, on their own merits and nothing else.

This particular product is bad, and it's bad for what seem to me to be less a matter of opinion and more a very clear and definable set of reasons. The reason I gave it a bad review has nothing to do with a failure to understand the purpose of the product and even less to do the fact that it's a third-party publication. My opinion of 3PP content certainly does not amount to "3pps suck." As you said, Paizo was a 3PP producer, and so were Green Ronin and White Wolf. Trust me; I'm rooting for the little guys.

In any case, I apologize again if I've offended anyone - I suspected that my review might have done just that given that it is my first foray on these particular forums and that my first review was so critical of the author and so incredulous about the existing reviews. Still, I'd rather review any given product honestly than alter any given review to account for the circumstances of my posting it.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


Questioner, metamagic feats may not have had a caster level requirement directly, there is an implied one. If you aren't highmenough level to cast a spell after adjustment, then you can't really take the feat. A prime example is the Quicken feat. It adds 4 levels to the spell, IIRC. You can't get any benifit from it until you can cast 5th level spells. I don't count cantrips because I don't see a single one that I wouldmwant to cast as a 4th level spell.

Your issues with formatting are something that I and others just do not see. I think the product deserves 4+ stars. It doesn't fit in any campaign I run, so I don't think it will see use from my group any time soon.

Apologies for any formating problems with this post. I am typing on an iPad.

Shadow Lodge

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A MUST-HAVE for the CastleVania campaign I've wanted to run for forever.

Thanks a million, SGG!


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I think people took issue with the mention of the two reviewers instead of focusing on the product. May I suggest that, going forward, all reviewers avoid referencing other reviewers.


xorial wrote:
Questioner, metamagic feats may not have had a caster level requirement directly, there is an implied one. If you aren't highmenough level to cast a spell after adjustment, then you can't really take the feat. A prime example is the Quicken feat. It adds 4 levels to the spell, IIRC. You can't get any benifit from it until you can cast 5th level spells. I don't count cantrips because I don't see a single one that I wouldmwant to cast as a 4th level spell.

You are correct in that the caster level prerequisites for metamagic feats are often "implied" as you describe, although that doesn't justify the inconsistency. Furthermore, the metamagic feat in this product has a spell-level-adjustment of 0. There is no "implied" caster level, just a prerequisite one (in defiance of the tradition that metamagic feats in Pathfinder never have caster level prerequisites).

xorial wrote:
Your issues with formatting are something that I and others just do not see. I think the product deserves 4+ stars. It doesn't fit in any campaign I run, so I don't think it will see use from my group any time soon.

xorial, I can appreciate that you don't care about the formatting issues. The same probably goes for font selection and the presence of unused space. In terms of gameplay, the intent of each prerequisite is in no way muddled or made unclear by the erroneous or nonstandard formatting that this product features. From a mechanical perspective, the formatting is completely unimportant.

It can be important from another perspective, however! That would be the perspective of a guy or gal who picks up a copy of Megadungeon Delver's Player Options and is thereby introduced to one of SGG's products for the very first time. A guy or gal like... me, for example! If I didn't know differently already, this product would surely have convinced me that Super Genius Games was an extraordinarily half-arsed publisher with only a middling grasp of the Pathfinder ruleset. The nonstandard formatting is only a small piece of that picture, of course (and so is the wasted space - crack open a professional publication authored by Paizo or its equivalent and try to find any unused space). As a consumer, however, why would I buy something from a publisher that seems to know less about design and PFRPG-compatible conventions than I do? I want to buy from an author whose content is at least up to par with the bulk of Paizo's material, or with that of the more professional 3PP authors I could have bought from instead.

That said, my real beef with Megadungeon Delver's Player Options has way more to do with design than with format.

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
I think people took issue with the mention of the two reviewers instead of focusing on the product. May I suggest that, going forward, all reviewers avoid referencing other reviewers.

I think you're right, and I apologize if I caused a stir. I did purposefully intend to be quite critical of this product, but I did not mean to offend.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


The Questioner wrote:
I hope you will forgive me if I attribute the positive nature of your reviews to a predisposed inclination to enjoy or appreciate Super Genius Games' products. In business, that predisposition is called "good will," and large companies spend a lot of money to cultivate it. If Pepsi releases a new product, consumers are statistically more likely to receive it well than they would an identical product manufactured by a lesser-known corporate entity. When I express that I feel that this "good will" effect is responsible or partially responsible for the positive reception of this product, it is only because that is the professional conclusion that I've come to.

Having been on the receiving end of a few EndZeitgeist reviews that were less than stellar in the past, I know from experience that a free product or two does not sway his opinion, period. I know that I myself am not swayed by free products from companies. And, for the record, the SGG imprint is the one company I do steady reviews for that has NEVER given me a review copy, so to assume instantly that there might be something of that nature going on is insulting, whether it is intended or not.

And I, like so many others here, fully understand the nature of corporations buying their reviews. I think you will find that the general majority of the 3PP community are of the same breed of people. We're here because we love this game, not because we think it will make us rich. A great deal of the companies I do reviews for consist of one or two people, total. I don't see that being the culture that is going to have the capacity to tempt me with shiny baubles into giving good reviews for no reason.

I'm sorry that your previous experiences in life have led you to such instant conclusions, professionally or otherwise. That strikes me as a horrible way to go through life.

Everything else I have typed, and erased three times now comes down to a matter of personal opinion...which I am going to choose to respect here. You are entitled to your opinion, both as a customer and a reviewer.


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The Questioner wrote:
KTFish7 and Endzeitgeist; while it is true that the content of your reviews baffles me, I meant it quite sincerely when I stated that the bewilderingly-positive nature of the existing reviews could not be a matter of dubious authenticity. I was speaking quite literally and I meant to insinuate nothing. I do not question your integrity as reviewers! It is equally true, however, that I would absolutely suspect the existing reviews of being more or less blatant corporate propaganda if I had never heard of your names before, or if I did not have access to your established body of reviews here on the forums.

So, to be clear, you do NOT mean to suggest these two reviewers have the bad ethics to BE shills, but you DO believe SGG has the bad ethics as a company to hire shills.

Since, if these reviews were from anyone else, that is what you would believe.

That's still pretty insulting.


KTFish7 wrote:

Having been on the receiving end of a few EndZeitgeist reviews that were less than stellar in the past, I know from experience that a free product or two does not sway his opinion, period. I know that I myself am not swayed by free products from companies. And, for the record, the SGG imprint is the one company I do steady reviews for that has NEVER given me a review copy, so to assume instantly that there might be something of that nature going on is insulting, whether it is intended or not.

And I, like so many others here, fully understand the nature of corporations buying their reviews. I think you will find that the general majority of the 3PP community are of the same breed of people. We're here because we love this game, not because we think it will make us rich. A great deal of the companies I do reviews for consist of one or two people, total. I don't see that being the culture that is going to have the capacity to tempt me with shiny baubles into giving good reviews for no reason.

I'm sorry that your previous experiences in life have led you to such instant conclusions, professionally or otherwise. That strikes me as a horrible way to go through life.

KTFish7, you misunderstand me. I do not mean to imply that any reviewer here has accepted a shiny bauble in return for the authoring of a good review. The corporate idea of "good will" has nothing to do with bribery or even integrity. Rather, it is the statistically-evidenced idea that brands, if popular, can positively inform and color the opinions of consumers (whether they realize it or not). I am merely speculating that the good will generated by SGGs paid products may color the reviews of this product, which is positively riddled with design flaws that are not addressed in the reviews.

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
So, to be clear, you do NOT mean to suggest these two reviewers have the bad ethics to BE shills, but you DO believe SGG has the bad ethics as a company to hire shills.

To that I could not speak, except to say that no, I would not expect to come to such a conclusion. That is not the case here, and so I believe and suspect that SGG has or would do no such thing.

Happy gaming,
- the Questioner


But you do have a tendency to imply such Questioner, and it comes off fairly insulting to the others on these boards.


So what your saying is my future review of this product if its not a low review then it must be blatant corporate propaganda? Hmm interesting...


Just a note, anyone in Pathfinder can find magical traps. There appeared to be some confusion on that in your portion on Room Sweeper.

A change of tone wouldn't hurt either.


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Questioner, I don't have a dog in this fight, but if you want me to actually read your reviews and derive some value from them in the future, you might want to stop sounding like a ponce.

Any "supremely objective" review of an expressive work will involve an inherent subjective element. Since I don't know who you are (much less your credentials as an "Objective RPG Supplement Reviewer"), your reviews will affect my purchasing decisions only so far as you are able to persuade me that you will judge the product in a fashion that broadly comports with my own subjective views on the subject of RPG supplements.

As the reader, I'm going to develop an opinion on your opinions by: a) critically evaluating your argumentation and logic; and b) continuing to read your reviews to develop a better sense of where you stand vis-a-vis my own subjective thoughts on RPGs.

What really gets in the way of (a), and makes me much less inclined to try (b), is if you deploy excessive adverbiage and speculation only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Musing on the motivations of other reviewers, upbraiding the collective 3PP market for presentation failures, and opining on the dire consequences of allowing shoddy products to enter the market creates so much static that I am less inclined to wade through the next time.

Of course, if you just want to write the RPG equivalent of Op-Eds, carry on. :)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Questioner wrote:

Howdy. The Questioner here, reviewer of all things free.

Downloaded and reviewed.

I realize that this, my first review on the Paizo forums, has been quite critical. Of course I mean no ill-will to anyone, and I look forward to reading the other “freebies” that SGG has to offer.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner

I'm curious. What do you think would be an example of a four-star free product?


Realmwalker wrote:
But you do have a tendency to imply such Questioner, and it comes off fairly insulting to the others on these boards.

I’m sorry that you feel that way, Realmwalker. Maybe it’s the Asperger’s talking, but I don’t think it is. I feel that I’ve been both critically honest and reasonably diplomatic.

havoc xiii wrote:
So what your saying is my future review of this product if its not a low review then it must be blatant corporate propaganda? Hmm interesting...

In all honesty? I would, at the very least, probably assume that your knowledge of conventions and PFRPG rules to be too poor to merit very much credibility as a reviewer. Unless, that is, your review addressed and legitimately countered some or all of the serious, serious issues that I have with the mechanical design choices (and errors) that the author made when putting this product together. Where KTFish7 and Endzeitgeist are concerned, this isn’t the case. I know them, but I don’t know you!

Cheapy wrote:

Just a note, anyone in Pathfinder can find magical traps. There appeared to be some confusion on that in your portion on Room Sweeper.

A change of tone wouldn't hurt either.

By gods, you’re right! I’ll amend my review. Thanks. As for my tone; I apologize if I’m coming across as whatever it is that you’re “hearing,” so to speak. My primary interest as a reviewer is to provide accurate and honest reviews, whether I’m reviewing Paizo product or something that any given newcomer to the scene scribbled down on a napkin in his basement. I’d prefer not to sacrifice either of those goals for “tone,” even if it means I’ve got to be critical of a popular author. I stand by the idea that Owen’s popularity is no doubt deserved… but the popularity of this product is not. :-)

vergaul wrote:
Questioner, I don't have a dog in this fight, but if you want me to actually read your reviews and derive some value from them in the future, you might want to stop sounding like a ponce.

Whelp! See above.

vergaul wrote:
As the reader, I'm going to develop an opinion on your opinions by: a) critically evaluating your argumentation and logic; and b) continuing to read your reviews to develop a better sense of where you stand vis-a-vis my own subjective thoughts on RPGs.

I invite you to do both of those things; especially the first! This may not be the place to draw out such an evaluation of those items, though.

Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm curious. What do you think would be an example of a four-star free product?

To be clear, a four-star free product is just a four-star product that happens to be free. “Free” doesn’t impact the rating. It doesn’t improve the product, or make me any more likely to use it at my table. In any case, a four-star product would contain:

  • Clean, skilled mechanical design. The author(s) should demonstrate an extensive knowledge of both the rules and the conventions and traditions behind those rules, and a sense of when to break them (and when not to).
  • The product should hold to some clearly-defined theme (such as a “dungeon delver’s guide!”).
  • Professional appeal must be in evidence. A four-star product looks like a professional publication. Wasted space should be nonexistent, typographical errors should be absolutely minimal, everything should be nicely aligned, and the product should “flow” naturally. Evidence of a skilled and qualified editor must be in place.
  • Artwork should be top-notch, or close to it. In the event that the publication doesn’t merit artwork, this point could be disregarded.
  • Originality is a must. The product should inspire me to use the content presented therein.

I would say that those would be my standards for a four-star product.

Happy Gaming
- The Questioner


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Questioner wrote:
To be clear, a four-star free product is just a four-star product that happens to be free. “Free” doesn’t impact the rating. It doesn’t improve the product, or make me any more likely to use it at my table.

This implies that value-for-money has no impact on a product's rating, which seems idiosyncratic. (No big deal, given reviewing is such a subjective thing, but it's still a little unusual).

Quote:

In any case, a four-star product would contain:

•Clean, skilled mechanical design. The author(s) should demonstrate an extensive knowledge of both the rules and the conventions and traditions behind those rules, and a sense of when to break them (and when not to).
•The product should hold to some clearly-defined theme (such as a “dungeon delver’s guide!”).
•Professional appeal must be in evidence. A four-star product looks like a professional publication. Wasted space should be nonexistent, typographical errors should be absolutely minimal, everything should be nicely aligned, and the product should “flow” naturally. Evidence of a skilled and qualified editor must be in place.
•Artwork should be top-notch, or close to it. In the event that the publication doesn’t merit artwork, this point could be disregarded.
•Originality is a must. The product should inspire me to use the content presented therein.

I would say that those would be my standards for a four-star product.

I was asking about some actual examples. If all you ever give out is 2-star reviews then I'll calibrate appropriately when I read them. I dont really care what standard you apply - so far the range I've seen is 1 or 2 star ratings and I was curious what (if any) free products exist which live up to your expectations.


Ah, I understand. As you may know, I've only just begun to use the paizo-dot-com review functions. I started with SGG due to the incredible popularity of their products, but I have yet to produce a four-star review. For that matter, I've yet to produce four reviews, period.

On that note, I'm open to suggestion with regards to which free products I should review next. I'm looking at a long list of freebies from Rite Publishing, but I'm also intrigued by some of the free EN Publishing titles.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


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I will say that I do understand where the Questioner is coming from with his bias comment, and how previous experiences influence future ones. In many ways, I agree with the general idea behind that, although I'm not sure if it applies in this case. I've seen certain reviewers give 1 or 2 star reviews of SGG materials because they were pretty bad, and then change them upon revision.

My friend Rogue_Eidolon and I were talking about this sort of phenomenon the other week, as it related to Paizo releases and some of the items in Ultimate Equipment. There are some highly broken items in that book, and indeed you will find quite a few broken things in many of Paizo's books, but the issue is that people want to see them as not broken, and so will go at lengths to rationalize this to themselves. Rogue_Eidolon mentioned that this was an "almost understandable desire to see no fault in first party material to justify their purchases." (a paraphrase, sorry RE) And there's quite a bit of truth in that! No publisher is perfect, and they all release broken things. This is in part due to different design philosophies, in part due to using first time authors, in part due to not thinking consequences through, and myriad other reasons. But the fans will want to justify that they spent their money well and so they will assume everything is balanced, and will argue that even the most broken of things are perfectly balanced. This is in many ways due to Paizo's stellar handling of the CRB and the APG (not that the latter didn't have a few issues). Fans drank from the ambrosia originally, and are still riding that euphoric feeling.

We also, as I'm sure most of us are keenly aware, deal with this in the opposite way. Many people were burned by 3rd party material in the early days of 3e. It was the wild west of material, with anyone able to release even the lamest of things and have it sell. I personally wasn't there to watch it unfold, but I've heard stories and I still deal with it. People had highly negative reactions to 3rd party and so swore it off forever, or are highly critical of 3rd party publications to a degree they'd never think to do for 1st party publications. And we still see this meme today. This is the same phenomenon, but from the other direction. They had negative reactions originally, and so that's biasing them heavily.

One of the points I'm getting at was probably put better by Jason Bulmahn, so I'll just post that here.

3pp material is great. As with all material, you should decide on your own, as GM, what does and what does not belong in your game based on its quality and the needs of your campaign, regardless of who printed it. Just sayin...

As an addendum, I think I see what the Questioner is trying to do. At least, by assuming good faith, I think so. There are hints of this here and there, and I saw that he appeared to be interested in making 3rd party material himself (or he wanted to turn a company over to WotC, which...since I'm assuming good faith, I'm disregarding the idea of). What I suspect is that he wants to better the free offerings up to the standards of the paid materials. He hints at this in one of his reviews (Dragonrider feats, I think) that he knows the the class it's supporting was excellently done, but that if someone just saw the freebies, they'd be turned off from the company.

Now, this is a noble enough goal. When I critique the work of others over in the homebrew forums, I try to do similar things. I want to help them get better (although I'm making no claims to my own abilities here). But, as I always preface my critiques with, "praise is nice, but criticism is useful. Don't take it personally :)". And so I go into detail, almost line by line, and give my thoughts on things. I don't pull punches, and I don't sugar coat it (too often). I approach it from the perspective of "this is broken, and here's why." This gets me in the mindset to find issues. It gets me in the mindset of constructive criticism.

And my critiques have so far been highly welcome. I think there's only one that's been dismissed off-hand. And people even ask for them, which is the part that gets me.

And the reason I do this is because I want there to be better homebrew out there. I want quality stuff out there. I want people to think "oh hey, this is some good stuff. I should use it!" I want them to learn that there are many, many quality things out there for the Pathfinder game that aren't published by Paizo. I do this with third party stuff as well. I will gladly say "No, this is broken s$%$" to my main publisher, the guy who pays me and gives me work, to help achieve this. When I do this with third party stuff, I generally do it privately with e-mails though.

As I said, I suspect that's the same reason as the Questioner, so I do get where he's coming from if my suspicions hold true. However, I think he's going about it the wrong way. I've been discussing the reviews privately with a few people, and the phrase "anal retentive" came up a few times. (And as a note, the conversations I am referring to was not with Owen, who had nothing but kind words to say.) And this hints at why I think the reviews have been received negatively. While there are certainly a fair amount of constructive criticism in the reviews, it's lost in the sea of what appears to be almost showboating, and at times what appears to be insulting ("SGG bounce"? Really?). This is what I meant by a change of tone, above. Which is highly unfortunate since it's clear this guy is intelligent and has a great command of the written language. Those skills are highly useful for helping with editing mistakes. If the future reviews have a change of tone, I think they'll be better received.

Yes, I just reviewed reviews.


Thank you for your largely-accurate input, Cheapy, and for your suggestions. "Anal retentive" may well describe me, though as it pertains to the material that I review, my expectations regarding attention to detail have more to do with holding 3PP producers to the same standards that I hold Hasbro and Paizo Publishing to. I want to see 3PP authors that care as much about detail as the larger and well-established companies do (and as much as I do).

I am indeed a fan of the 3PP industry, and I see no reason why 3PP products cannot or should not be held to a standard of professionalism and excellence.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


The Questioner wrote:

Ah, I understand. As you may know, I've only just begun to use the paizo-dot-com review functions. I started with SGG due to the incredible popularity of their products, but I have yet to produce a four-star review. For that matter, I've yet to produce four reviews, period.

On that note, I'm open to suggestion with regards to which free products I should review next. I'm looking at a long list of freebies from Rite Publishing, but I'm also intrigued by some of the free EN Publishing titles.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner

I would suggest our most recent Pathways #18.


Will do. I had it on my list (along with every other free product that I could find). I'll give it a read tonight, or over the weekend. I've just downloaded it to my thumb drive; at first glance, I have to commend the production value - you're put together a sharp-looking product. I'll try to do a content review on or before Monday.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


Questioner, as fas I'm concerned we're cool - none here wants to insinuate that you should tone done what you think - I think the majority of the feedback here is based on the way in which you formulate your reviews - For one as obviously versed in the intricacies of the English language as you are, it shouldn't be too hard to see how not the fact that you voice concerns and opinions bothers people, but rather how they are perceived as offensive/direct attacks towards authors, people or companies.

Whether that's your intention or not, it's how some sentences in your reviews are perceived.

The problem is that this may drive people off by undermining your own position, which probably is not in your best intentions - especially if you do plan to release something along the way: Then it only alienates your consumer-base.

While being objective is an impossibility in a subjective model of perception as the one to which we're limited as human beings, you can strive to make your points by not attacking people and rather give as neutral a point of view as possible and acknowledging your own pet-peeves without being judgmental while still providing useful advice to people on whether they'll enjoy a given product. At least that's what I'm striving to do.

I hope this does not degenerate into a flame-fest. Let's stay civil, everyone. :)

All the best,
EZG


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The Questioner wrote:


havoc xiii wrote:
So what your saying is my future review of this product if its not a low review then it must be blatant corporate propaganda? Hmm interesting...
In all honesty? I would, at the very least, probably assume that your knowledge of conventions and PFRPG rules to be too poor to merit very much credibility as a reviewer. Unless, that is, your review addressed and legitimately countered some or all of the serious, serious issues that I have with the mechanical design choices (and errors) that the author made when putting this product together. Where KTFish7 and Endzeitgeist are concerned, this isn’t the case. I know them, but I don’t know you!

You know...I was going to post something cutting and rude...but then I thought to myself...why bother. If you decide I don't know anything about the rules and think my future reviews don't merit credibility that's your choice, have fun with that.

Shadow Lodge

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My best advice: avoid mentioning other reviews, or any bias that you think exists, in future reviews. Concentrate on just including your opinion of the product in question. That way, any criticism towards your reviews will be pretty baseless...after all, who are they to tell you if you did/didn't like a certain product?


Endzeitgeist; though I stand by my review wholeheartedly, and though I absolutely do not believe that I (nor, as I understand it, does Owen) have precipitated any attack on author Owen K. C. Stephens or on anyone else, I appreciate your suggestions.

havoc xiii wrote:
You know...I was going to post something cutting and rude...but then I thought to myself...why bother. If you decide I don't know anything about the rules and think my future reviews don't merit credibility that's your choice, have fun with that.

havoc xiii; I'm not sure why it would occur to you to be rude. You asked me a theoretical question and I provided a theoretical answer. As I said, if you were to author a review which addressed the design flaws, mechanical errors, and typographical errors that plague this product in a way that refutes or justifies them, I'd give your review credence. If your review glossed over or failed to address the poor design and sloppy content that I addressed in detail within the body of my review, then I would likely regard your review quite dismissively; yes.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


Kthulhu wrote:
My best advice: avoid mentioning other reviews, or any bias that you think exists, in future reviews. Concentrate on just including your opinion of the product in question. That way, any criticism towards your reviews will be pretty baseless...after all, who are they to tell you if you did/didn't like a certain product?

It does seem that this point sparked the debate that currently rages. In the future I will be certain not to address other reviews within the body of my own reviews.

It seems that my extremely negative criticisms with regards to the authorship of this product are indeed being held up by some parties as evidence of a personal attack on Owen K. C. Stephens, however. That's another matter altogether, and I'd encourage anyone who believes that I have done so to demonstrate evidence of such (and to perhaps familiarize themselves with the conventions that professional critics hold to the world over). Critics must be critical; in the world of the professional reviewer, critical reviews do not imply personal attacks.

If Owen K. C. Stephens lived next door to me, I'd have written the same review. I'd also watch his dog when he was out of town, and I'd wave at him if I spotted him in his garden. I'm sure the man is terrific.

This product isn't terrific, so I reviewed it harshly and with plain language. There's nothing further to be read into that.

Thanks again for your input, Kthulhu. I plan to take it to heart.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


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Reading the review, and looking at the product I downloaded, I simply am not sure The Questioner and I were looking at the same product.

So far as "evidence of a personal attack on Owen K. C. Stephens", well, when you use vitriolic language and repeatedly give negative reviews to his products, you come off as a troll, and that's what people are reacting to. S$~* on someone's lawn a few times and people are gonna assume you don't like them.

Also, claiming Asperger's isn't a license to be a jerk.


Lyingbastard wrote:

Reading the review, and looking at the product I downloaded, I simply am not sure The Questioner and I were looking at the same product.

So far as "evidence of a personal attack on Owen K. C. Stephens", well, when you use vitriolic language and repeatedly give negative reviews to his products, you come off as a troll, and that's what people are reacting to. S!~! on someone's lawn a few times and people are gonna assume you don't like them.

Also, claiming Asperger's isn't a license to be a jerk.

Indeed it isn't; I've made no excuses for my review or for my opinion (the aforementioned syndrome included). That's why I've clearly stated my case and defended my opinion each time that either has come into question. To say that my reviews contain vitriolic language is either a gross exaggeration or demonstrative of a failure to understand the meaning of the word vitriolic. There is and was no bitterness, hate, or acid in my review of this product. I feel that to imply that I'm "being a jerk" is equally unfair, as I've been very fair, objective, honest, and straightforward in terms of offering and defending my review and in making it abundantly clear that I have in no way defamed Owen K. C. Stephens.

Furthermore, implying that writing critical reviews of products that I did not enjoy or find to contain quality production value is equivalent to defecating on someone's lawn is ridiculous. A critic is not obligated to dole out some number of positive reviews so as to avoid hurting feelings or to keep up appearances. I didn't think the products that I rated were very good, so I rated them poorly. In the future, I will continue to do so (regardless of publisher).

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


Again it was not the negative review that made you look Trollish, it was the way you wrote the review. You worded it in such a way that it made it feel that it was a personal attack. I will say it again when you call someone lazy (which you did), and claim the opening of all his bullet point products as condescending people (your readers) are going to take it as you making a personal attack. Whether or not that was your intent does not matter you made implications that your readers took offense to.

We want honest reviews Questioner and honest negative views are alright, where we took offense was how you worded it.

Sczarni

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What i find fascinating is how much the reviewer seems to dislike having his "work" reviewed with similar language to the one he himself used on the first place. Even to the point of being almost defesive.


Realmwalker, are you suggesting that my having referred to the seemingly-standard opening paragraph of the Bullet Points series as being "slightly condescending" in my review of Bullet Points: 8 Dragonrider Feats (which you should probably be discussing over here), combined with my referring to the work or the authorship as being lazy, hasty, and/or sloppy is grounds for readers to take my review as a personal attack against the actual author?

If so, I cannot further debate this point with you and I suggest that you flag whichever post or review the alleged personal attack occurred in so as to alert the Paizo staff to its existence. I cannot continue to repeat myself. I think that Owen got lazy on this product, and on at least one other product which I also reviewed. I can say so all day long without ever having attacked or defamed Owen, who I am absolutely sure is not a lazy person and with whom I neither take nor make any personal or professional offense or insult. I'm sorry that you're unable to understand what I'm saying, but I'll have to withdraw from this dizzying arguement, Realmwalker. If you find that my review contains or infers a personal attack against Owen or anyone else, please report it and allow the relevant parties to deal with it.

Thank you.
- The Questioner


Frerezar wrote:
What i find fascinating is how much the reviewer seems to dislike having his "work" reviewed with similar language to the one he himself used on the first place. Even to the point of being almost defesive.

I've given a sincere thanks to more than one commentator for their input and opinions on my review, Frerezar. What I dislike is being plainly and unfairly accused of having personally attacked someone.

I expect that's a reasonable dislike.

Happy gaming,
- The Questioner


The Questioner wrote:

Realmwalker, are you suggesting that my having referred to the seemingly-standard opening paragraph of the Bullet Points series as being "slightly condescending" in my review of Bullet Points: 8 Dragonrider Feats (which you should probably be discussing over here), combined with my referring to the work or the authorship as being lazy, hasty, and/or sloppy is grounds for readers to take my review as a personal attack against the actual author?

If so, I cannot further debate this point with you and I suggest that you flag whichever post or review the alleged personal attack occurred in so as to alert the Paizo staff to its existence. I cannot continue to repeat myself. I think that Owen got lazy on this product, and on at least one other product which I also reviewed. I can say so all day long without ever having attacked or defamed Owen, who I am absolutely sure is not a lazy person and with whom I neither take nor make any personal or professional offense or insult. I'm sorry that you're unable to understand what I'm saying, but I'll have to withdraw from this dizzying arguement, Realmwalker. If you find that my review contains or infers a personal attack against Owen or anyone else, please report it and allow the relevant parties to deal with it.

Thank you.
- The Questioner

You just don't get it then, all I am saying is your wordage comes off as attacking the one you are reviewing, this is an observation. I'm not telling you to stop, I'm not telling you that your negative review is uncalled for. I am just giving you a bit of helpful feedback telling you why you are getting such a horrible to response to your reviews. You look like someone that takes pride in their work,I am merely giving you feedback to help prevent this type of misunderstanding in the future. That is all, I want to give you feedback because good reviews are hard to come by.


No vitriolic wording?

"how sloppy the product looks", "mashed together with an ugly logo, dime-store fonts and graphics", "Every last page has a sloppy appearance", "the editor’s attention to detail or knowledge of established PFRPG formatting conventions seems to be poor", "lame PFRPG-compatible content", "this product runs the gamut from 'mediocre' to 'abominable'", "Were the reviewers in question not so well-established (Endzeitgeist, I’m shocked!) I would even go so far as to suspect the authenticity of these reviews", "reviewers and readers must simply be reading Megadungeon Delver’s Player Options through rose-colored glasses", "green-lighted by a lazy author or editor", "This mechanic suffers from so many problems it’s hard to decide where to begin", "This product seems to be bouncing from 'inexcusably bad original designs' to 'insipid and uninspired designs' with an almost manic rhythm", "Finally, an offering which is merely mediocre. By comparison to the other feats in this product, Herald of Justice is quite excellent. Unfortunately, that’s not saying anything; if this feat were ever to appear in a better product, it would never get a second look. Ho-hum", "Sloppy, broken, and uninteresting", "A perfect example of broken design", "this product was not useful, not enjoyable, and not playtested. If I could give it zero stars, I would. I mean no offense to the author, but products like this - especially from a high-profile producer - damage the 3PP industry".

Nope, nothing insulting there, eh Troll?

The Exchange

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The Questioner wrote:


I’m sorry that you feel that way, Realmwalker. Maybe it’s the Asperger’s talking, but I don’t think it is. I feel that I’ve been both critically honest and reasonably diplomatic.

Oh hell no...

You can not play the Asperger's card to post as you have on the boards and expect to get away with it. My son is 16 and has more respect and temperament than you have shown on any single post or review I have yet to see. He has full blown Aspergers and knows enough of life and values to edit himself before posting. I feel that you are just using that as an excuse and a crutch. I take it as a personal affront to see people attempting to use that syndrome as an excuse when I see my teen age son take the time to make the effort every day not to be like that.

If you feel that a product is not worth looking at fine say so, but use some tact. When you reply to people on threads please try to edit yourself before hitting submit. You will find most people will be much more polite in return.

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