Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate at this time of year, may they all be filled with happiness.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Seven Cities

"Seven Cities" by Matt Forbeck, published by Atlas Games.  Details the creation and population of seven different types of cities: the thorp, the hamlet, the village, the small town, the large town, the small city, and the large city.  After a 16 page introduction that explains how to use the material in this book over and over again, there's a 17 page thorough look at a specific thorp, 12 pages for the example hamlet, 16 pages for the example village, 17 pages for the example small town, 16 pages for the example large town, 21 pages for the example small city, and 21 pages for the example large city.  The intro explains how to use these examples to create virtually an infinite number of other types of all the cities enclosed.  Each of the seven types of cities includes a couple of plot ideas.  There are also 39 small maps.  Each of the cities also includes a few NPC's that you can use again (with new names) in the larger cities.  All told, including the OGL and advertisement, there's 144 page chock full of great world building ideas.  For fantasy game masters, I'd say this one is well worth picking up.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: The Dungeon Alphabet

"The Dungeon Alphabet" authored by Michael Curtis and produced by Goodman Games and distributed by Goodman Games, definitely deserves the Three Castles Award. After a short Intro, they get right into the alphabetical tables - eight new topics in this third edition, and over 34 tables.  There are tables for every letter of the alphabet, plus a few letters have two entries.  All these tables make for great random generation.  The whole of this small tome reminds me a little of the "old school" of D&D.  The classic b&w line art just enhances this.  Although most of the tables are fairly small, they should also serve as idea stimulators.  The charts are generic and will fit into any fantasy role-playing game.  A really crafty GM could conceivably use this book to teach the alphabet to a child.  Older 1st and 2nd editions of this book run quite expensive on Amazon - so get this while you can!  Highly recommended.

Review: The Mother of All Treasure Tables

"The Mother of All Treasure Tables" authored by various authors and produced by Necromancer Games and distributed by Kenzer and Co, definitely has the usual Necromancer Games "Third Edition Rules - First Edition Feel". After a short Intro, there are not one, not two, not even three, but no less than ten different tables.  There are tables for: 10 GP (or less), 50 GP, 100 GP, 500 GP, 1,000 GP, 5,000 GP, 10,000 GP, 30,000 GP. 50,000 GP, and one for Epic Hoards. All these tables make for great random treasures.  The shortage of info for anything beyond 30,000 GP is a little disappointing.  However, even the small number of treasure hoards above 30K will give creative GM's ideas on what to put in such a large hoard.  My higher recommendation goes to using this book as a sister to the recently reviewed "Mother of All Encounter Tables".  Good GM's should only use this book as a emergency guide, and not a constant companion. It's not as good as the "Mother of all Encounter Tables".  It would have gotten four stars were it not for the much smaller treasure tables for 30,000, 50,000, and epic hoards, but it's still a great try.   Recommended.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary

by various authors

Publisher: Atlas Games
ISBN 1-58978-030-2
Hardcover Pages: 368

The "Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary" by various authors, and brought to you by Atlas Games, is one of the rare alternative bestiaries that is really worth what you pay for it.  With over 200 new monsters, and over 20 new templates, as well as listing creatures by type and sub-type, terrain, challenge rating (from 1/4 to 22!), supplemental summoning tables, and a list of material that's new to d20.  There are five icons that help GM's separate all these monsters by stats - including The Wolf, The Cat, The Hand, The Mask, and The Eclipse (only the very highest characters should attempt a violent encounter with a Eclipse creature).  Almost all of the pages in this tome are filled with monsters, and they come in all varieties.  All include at least one adventure seed for GM's to use to introduce new creatures to their campaign.  There's an informational block sidebar for further detailing your creatures so they won't all feel like monsters from the box.  The forward includes a lot of info about awarding XP to encounters.  The 20+ templates give you dozens of ways to further customize the critters herein.  My only fault with this book, are the generally poor illustrations - some of them almost look like clipart.  Altogether, though, I'd say this one is well worth picking up.  Highly recommended.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Mother of All Encounter Tables

 by: Greg Ragland

Publisher: Necromancer Games
ISBN: 1-931275-54-8
Hardcover Pages: 141

"The Mother of All Encounter Tables" authored by Greg Ragland and produced by Necromancer Games and distributed by Troll Lord Games definitely has the usual Necromancer Games "Third Edition Rules - First Edition Feel".  After the Intro, there is a short section of how to customize the book, and then not one, not two, not even three, but no less than ten different examples of how to use the tables inside.  Then there's a table index followed by the Master Tables charts.  There are tables for: Arctic, Sub-Arctic, Temperate, Sub-Tropical, Tropical, (all of which have both day and night charts), Aquatic, Underground, and Deep Earth.  Then there's a short section for weather and terrain, followed by a series of Non-Monster encounters.  There are also charts for Roads and Trade Routes - on land, over seas, and even subterranean.  There's a couple of charts for NPC adventures such as a caravan.  My only fault with the book is the mostly sideways printing.  But you'll get used to this after a short while of really using the book for those moments when the players go one way and the DM had plans for them to go another.  The unique use of a d1000 (yes, three d10's) makes for plenty of differences in randomly generated encounters.  Not for Players mind you, but for overworked DM's.  140 pages of good crunchy stats.  As the book says: "You never know when ants will infest your food, or when the cleric gets hit by lightning!"  Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: Kingdoms of Kalamar Dungeon Master's Shield

by Wolfgang Baur

Publisher: Kenzer & Co
ASIN: 1594590133
16 pages - Card Stock Covers

The Kingdom of Kalamar DM's screen can be a little daunting at first. Four page fold out card stock screen with several extra pages either stapled in or able to fold over revealing even more tables and charts that a harried GM might want when running a Kalamar campaign. Kenzer & Co outdid themselves on this one, and for them that's saying a lot. Just a few selections from each of the 16 pages of this well built folio...

1) Treasure - broken down by level!...
2) Weapons, shields, and armor...
3) Mundane items and XP rewards...
4) Ranged weapons, concealment, and turning undead...
5) Diseases, poisons, and firing patterns...
6) Actions in Combat (Do they provoke an AoO?)...
7) A huge page for skills...
8) Coinage of the realms...
9) Combat basics, maneuverability, and more...
10) Object hardness, Ability mods, and Morale checks...
11) Skill Check mods, alchemical mixes, doors, and walls...
12) Spellcraft, sleight of hand, Bluff, and knowledge...
13) Tellene Deity Names...
14) Carry Capacity, Movement, and mounts...
15&16) A comprehensive look at the deities of Tellene...
And that's not all of the features...
Plus a nice dock scene and player maps for the players to look at.

I'm planning a Kalamar campaign now, and the charts on this GM's screen are sure going to save me a lot of work in looking up the various factors that might come up during a game. There's even a chart for ordering pizza! - A nice very funny touch, which I have come to expect from Kenzer & Co's main product, the Knights of the Dinner Table.

If you're thinking of running a Kalamar campaign now, or you're already running one, and you don't own this product, my suggestion is to grab one of these while it's still available.

Bruce Gray

Review: Secret College of Necromancy

by David 'Zeb' Cook and Wolfgang Baur

Publisher: Green Ronin
ISBN-13: 978-0971438026
ISBN-10: 0971438026
96 pages - Paperback

For sheer horror there's nothing in D&D that quite chills the blood as well as the word Necromancer. And this book provides a fully fleshed out Necromancer class (as well as a Death Knight). The usual bonuses and spells available lists are given, as well as some great ideas on a Necromatic familiar. Several New Feats and dozens of new spells form the bulk of the information, along with new items and new creatures. Then comes the secret college section, including a history of the college that's generic enough to plop down in any large city, the college at work, and a few NPC's for flavor. At the end there's an appendix of tables, an index, and a familiar/mount character sheet.

Now a few words about the classes - yes, they're overpowered - at least until PC's reach a minimum of 10th level. But remember, Necromancers, according to this book, are supposed to be evil - and most evil characters should be NPC's. It should be obvious that both the Necromancer and especially the Death Knight are NPC's. Then there's a whole secret college full of evil things. What a great challenge for player characters - and it should provide fodder for several adventures before the PC's shut it down - if they can!

96 pages of Necromatic evilness - I'd recommend Secret College of Necromancy to any GM looking for an evil organization to harass players with - because it's not just the college - it's the people inside it as well.

Bruce Gray

Thursday, September 27, 2012

After three days, my wife is finally out of the hospital.  They thought she might have had a mini-stroke, but they did a bunch of tests and all came back negative.  They let her go late yesterday (Wed, Sept 26).  She still has a major deep sinus infection, which they think might have caused her dizziness and many of her other symptoms.  I'm finally back to what passes for normal here in the circus.  I may try to get another review out before the end of the week...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fri 14 Sept 2012......

Absolutely nothing to do today except take my wife and daughter to and from work...  maybe I'll finally get to play a computer game or two....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday, Sept 12, 2012

Going to Dragon's Hoard in Staunton, VA again this Sat (the 15th) for a swap meet and trading session.  WIll have lots of Warhammer 40K, Warhammer FRPG, and many RPG's to sell.  Come and see me there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Sept 11 - Patriot Day,

Yet another trip to Charlottesville, VA from Harrisonburg.  Good lunch at Western Sizzlin' Wood Fire Grill and got to see my friends on their bus back to Oklahoma.  Then back to Harrisonburg thru Staunton, VA to talk to the owner of Dragon's Hoard.  Then finally back to Harrisonburg to take my daughter to work and pick my wife up from work.  More travelling tomorrow as my wife wants to go out........
Although this is being "published" on Tues, it should actually be read as Monday's post.

Had a =very= long trip today from Harrisonburg, VA to Wausaw, VA and back.  About a 3 1/2 hours drive one way.  Saw a Democratic Attorney while there for friends.  Came back thru Fredricksburg, VA (we shopped at a huge mall there) and thru Charlottesville, VA to get back to Harrisonburg.

Never saw so much road reconstruction going on in my whole life.  Many delays and total stoppages.  Although I did get a good new computer program out of it (Neverwinter Complete edition) I also got a tiny chip in my windshield somewhere in all that construction.  Altogether I was on the road about 7 hours.

And more trips tomorrow.............

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hi all!  I'm back now after a longish non-threatning illness.  I'll try to get back to my regular schedule of one post a week as soon as possible.