Ask anyone that cut their teeth on roleplaying and war gaming during the 80’s and 90’s and they will tell you that Ral Partha miniatures were a staple of any gaming shop and most gaming tables. Iron Wind Metals is bringing those classic figures back with an awesome new Kickstarter project. If you enjoy the look of classic fantasy miniatures (and you know you do) then I definitely recommend that you check out this project and pledge. Elves and Orcs/Goblins are the first two lines being brought back, but IWM has plans for a ton more including Dwarves, Dark Elves, Men, Halflings, Gnomes, Giants, and more!
Welcome back everyone to another RPG review by one of my personal favorite authors, the one and only Dale C McCoy Jr of Jon Brazer Enterprises. Today we are taking a look at his latest Pathfinder RPG release, Book of Magic: Signature Spells 2. You might remember my review of the first book in this series back in September last year, but in case this is your first exposure let me give a little background. The Book of Magic series is an attempt to bring back some of the personality to spell lists that we lost in 3rd edition. Each volume contains numerous new spells to add to your caster’s repertoire and shed a little light on the person for which they are named.
In the latest entry to the series, Signature Spells 2 contains a whopping total of 31 new spells for both arcane and divine casters. As a bonus, Dale includes some love for HeroLab users, allowing access to a source file to import the spell data right into the program for use with your characters. If that were not enough the introduction serves a dual purpose by not only introducing the book and series but also by giving a little backstory on some of the casters featured in this volume: Clarissa, Gravada, Halabar, Iggaria, Mikard, and Riyal.
The pdf itself weighs in at 13 pages with 2 pages dedicated to the front and back covers, 1 page for the title, and 1 page in the back advertising other JBE products. The cover pages maintain the series’ “book cover” motif which I love considering the topic at hand. Not only that but it makes for a very consistent presentation which I am a big fan of when it comes to a series.
Now that we have background out of the way let’s take a closer look at the real meat of this book, the spells. With 31 spells you might be tempted to think that there is either a lot of overlap or perhaps just slightly altered versions of SRD spells, but you would be wrong. Only one of the spells presented could be considered an empowered version of an existing SRD spell, the other 30 are completely original. Not only are they original, but they are incredibly useful and full of flavor. With names like “Clarissa’s Confusing Speech” and “Shallan’s Shadow Marionette” you just know these are going to be great reads.
The only piece that this great compilation of new spells is missing is something that I mentioned in my previous review of the first volume: flavor text. I wouldn’t really take away too many points for that, but it is a small touch that less experienced (or imaginative) players and gamemasters do appreciate. That being said, I can certainly imagine an imaginative player (or gamemaster) providing really interesting spells effect flavor for any of these.
In conclusion, Dale McCoy has brought us yet another great volume of truly unique spells to add to your gaming experience. Who knows, one of these spells might just inspire your caster to create something completely unique and make a name for themselves.
Disclaimer: This product was provided free of charge by the publisher.
Dale C McCoy Jr of Jon Brazer Enterprises again graces The Alfred Effect with another addition to the Pathfinder library. Today we are looking at Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane, the first rules release in his Shadowsfall lineup. Check out Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice – Valdia’s Tale by Mur Lafferty for an excellent short story set in the Plane of Shadows.
As with all of JBE’s releases, Monsters of the Shadow Plane is jammed pack with solid content. This bad boy weighs in at 46 pages of content, not counting the very well designed front/back covers, title page, and an ad. Most of that is dedicated to the 26 new monsters (several with variants) presented here. In addition, Dale offers a new template, Darkened, as well as numerous stat blocks for skeletons, zombies, and shadows, all staples of any Plane of Shadows adventure.
Each monster gets it’s own 1-2 page spread with beautiful black and white artwork. No guessing what the monster looks like here. Dale even finds space to include in-character quotes and bits of dialogue to almost every entry. It is this attention to detail that really makes these creatures stand out in my mind and it will help any GM add them to a campaign.
One of the hallmarks of any JBE product I have seen has always been the organization and supplemental material provided. This work is no different. Dale includes a full listing of monsters from Bestiary 1, 2, and 3 which are confirmed residents of Shadowsfall and even gives an explanation of how other creatures not listed could reasonably make an appearance as well saving the GM plenty of effort. To wrap things up are a number of appendices including the shadow, skeleton, zombies, and darkened stat blocks I mentioned above as well as universal monster rules, feats, a new creature subtype (shadow) and a listing of creatures by CR.
Dale and Jon Brazer Enterprises put together an excellent product every time and this is no exception. Monsters of the Shadow Plane is a great first step into the world of Shadowsfall or just the Plane of Shadows itself. The monsters here are balanced and represent a wide range of CR’s so any GM will find a good use for this book. If you are interested in running your players through a Plane of Shadows adventure or maybe just mixing up the standard bestiary line-up, this is the book for you.
Disclaimer: This product was provided free of charge by the publisher.
Dale C McCoy Jr of Jon Brazer Enterprises is no stranger here and his latest Pathfinder RPG release, Book of Magic: Signature Spells 1, marks another excellent entry to the company lineup alongside other bestsellers such as Book of the River Nations: Complete Player’s Reference for Kingdom Building and Book of the Faithful: The Power of Prayer. Where topics such as nation building/governance and divine feats have been covered previously, Dale now ventures forth into the realm of magic unveiling an array of 31 new spells for twelve different classes to add to your favorite caster’s arsenal. Not only that, but HeroLab users get access to a source file to import the spell data right into the program for use with your characters. I love extra’s and I know you do too, so let’s dive right on in.
This pdf weighs in at 12 pages with two pages dedicated to the front and back covers in full color (black and white interior). I love the book motif used for the covers. It is the perfect choice consider the topic at hand.
Once we get inside there is one title page with the credits and one page inside the back cover with an ad for other JBE products. So if you have been keeping count that puts our number of content pages at eight. And boy are they brimming with content.
As I stated earlier, there are thirty one spells contained within these pages. Of those thirty one only two are empowered renditions of SRD spells. The other twenty nine are all new creations, most of which embody a great deal of flavor just in their names. With names such as “Leighanna’s Bewitching Appearance” and “Rostov’s Snake Strike” you can imagine that they are quite unique in their function and you would be correct. Each spell is well detailed in addition to the standard stat block.
If I had one wish, however, it would have been to see some flavor text accompanying each spell. Perhaps some background or a simple description of its effects would have lent just a little more uniqueness to the mix. However the simple lack of flavor text does act as a catalyst to spark one’s imagination and I know as an experienced gamemaster I’ve already envisioned a certain back story for each of the character tentatively revealed herein.
In summary, this is a great compilation of unique and thematic spells that would be a perfect addition to any player or gamemaster’s arsenal. The crunch is well balanced and there is just enough flavor there to really spark the imagination and stir the cauldron of possibilities. If you want some unique magic to toss in your game, you won’t go wrong giving this book a look.
Disclaimer: This product was provided free of charge by the publisher.
In case you might have missed it, Lego recently released a new series to their line of game sets – Heroica. These four box sets each contain the rules and material to play a basic board game in the spirit of such titles as Heroquest and Talisman. This is a great product line to introduce a number of gaming concepts such as heroes vs monsters, rolling dice, keeping track of hit points/gold/loot, navigating obstacles, and more. While the rules straight out of the box are definitely designed for the younger crowd, with a little tweaking (which I will get into later) this can be expanded upon to make a nice little customized gaming experience.
So what do you get in the box? Well, for starters Heroica used a special d6 for all rolls. One side is a shield which when rolled yields a special results (additional movement, additional damage, special ability triggered, etc). The other 5 sides are contain a split result with one half of the die face being either a sword or skull (used in combat to indicate either damage taken or damage dealt) while the other half of the die face has a number of dots between 1 and 3 (used in movement). Modified one-piece Lego micro-figs are used to represent both the players (Heroes) and the monsters (goblins, werewolves, etc). There is a weapon rack which acts as the “store”, holding extra gold coins and weapons. The players also receive their own rack where they can store loot and track hit points.
And finally, there is the game board itself. The board design utilized colored 2×2 pieces with one point in the top center to simulate the path that the heroes can take. Each individual square counts as one move and takes the player’s through multiple environments including forests, deserts, caves, castles, and more. Some of the “rooms” have a great deal of detail to them including furniture and other cosmetic pieces. The best part is that these are standard Lego pieces and as such you can dig through your box of blocks and probably create a few yourself.
My wife and I have played through a couple of the box sets (we own 3 of the initial 4) and we both loved every minute of it. We decided to play using the default rules first to get a feel for things before trying to house rule anything. While things proceeded rather smoothly a couple of omissions did crop up. We also took some notes on elements that we would want to house rule at a later date. I will be working on compiling everything into a formatted document and will post it here once it is all done. In the meantime, here are a few things that we saw that needed to be changed:
- Remove instant kills. It really sucked the possibility of any tension out of the game when Amy killed the end “boss” just because she rolled a sword on the d6.
- How many actions can you do in a turn, ie can you move AND fight or just move?
- How is ranged combat handled? Do I just roll at any time?
- How do you activate non-combat related special abilities on your character/equipment? Do you roll anytime during the turn?
If you enjoy board games or have a little one you want to get into gaming, this is the perfect entry point. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my modifications including additional weapons/armor, using standard-size mini-figs, and additional adventures. In the meantime get to building and enjoy yourself some Lego Heroica!
Here we are again with another amazing release by Dale C McCoy Jr and Robert Brambley of Jon Brazer Enterprises. “Book of the River Nations: Complete Player’s Reference for Kingdom Building” may be a long title but it encompasses everything that this book is about. The latest volume in the “Book of the River Nations” series, this latest release is available in print or pdf form from Paizo or RPGNow as well as your friendly local gaming store.
If you have read my last review of a Jon Brazer Enterprises product you know that JBE puts out some high quality content. They deliver again with this beautiful and well-written tome. Today I will be talking about the pdf version of the book.
The Complete Player Reference for Kingdom Building weighs in at 52 pages in length with the first 3 and last 3 pages given over to covers, title pages, and ads. The very first thing that jumped out to me about this piece was the beautiful cover art which extends from the front cover to the back cover. JBE work has always features very well done covers and trade dress, but I think this title has raised the bar. The interior art is gray scale and very well placed throughout the text, never more than a quarter page in size. The trade dress is aesthetically pleasing without distracting the eye or taking up too much space.
Moving on to the content which is the most important piece of any RPG supplement. Here JBE shines again with excellent layout and organization. The book is divided into 7 chapters and the contents includes page numbers for each as well as each table and sidebar throughout the book. I found looking up information to be very easy especially when combined with the easy to navigate bookmarks in the pdf.
Chapter 1 covers exploration and touches base on topics such as movement and wandering monsters. This is one of the shorter chapters in the book, but does include 2 tables and 2 sidebars.
Chapter 2 is what I consider the real meat and potatoes of the book and covers the topic of kingdom building. This is what it is really about in my opinion and I think JBE agrees because it covers 14 pages of the text. Here we have rules for leadership roles, the phases of a kingdom’s turn, how to build improvements, castle building/improving, kingdom events, and experience gained from all of these activities. This truly is a comprehensive A-Z for the administration of a kingdom. Heck there are over 50 different types of buildings you can construct, 8 additions to spice up your castle, and 11 ways to develop an open space. All of the bases really have been covered here.
Chapter 3 covers another major aspect of running a kingdom, mass combat. What do you do when you go to war and how to resolve those battles. Here we have information on the army stat block, tactics that your army can use, resources/special abilities for the army, how to train armies, how to incorporate vassal armies, some sample armies, victory/defeat conditions, and how to run mass combat. This section definitely has the most crunch with stat blocks, modifiers, and a new way of resolving combat between such large groups. Everything is presented in a clear manner so it is very easy to pick up on. The author’s don’t get bogged down in the details of each individual soldier and instead concentrate on the essence of the force as a whole.
Chapter 4 introduces 17 new feats and two new feat types, the kingdom feats and mass combat feats. The feats here are all very logical and the benefits are well balances.
Chapter 5 brings us spells. Here we have a section on using spells in mass combat as well as 29 new spells to use. The new spells are primarily aimed at mass combat and as a GM I would not really allow them to be used outside of that.
Chapter 6 discusses organizations and secret societies. This includes 2 prestige classes, the Devout Healer and the King’s Eye, as well as 2 archetypes, the Hidden Sniper and the Monks of the Green Leaf. These are not bad, but in my opinion don’t really contribute a great deal to the subject matter at hand.
The final section, chapter 7, covers magic items and boy do we have some nice ones here. There are 11 items total and each one has a unique use in your kingdom. These items will give any spellcaster something good to work on crafting.
Last but certainly not least we have the appendix which is given over to 5 different blank maps and stat sheets. We have a great hex exploration map, a kingdom sheet, city district sheet, notable npc’s, and mass combat army sheets. All very handy to have at the table.
Overall this is an awesome addition to any player or GM’s Pathfinder RPG library. Personally I plan on picking up a print copy for my GM as a hint to allow my character to start planning his conquests. 🙂
Disclaimer: This pdf was provided free of charge by the publisher for review purposes.
RPG author Jeff Gupton of Blackbyrne Publishing returns with his sequel to module BP-1 “The Hidden Current” with this latest entry, BP-2 “The Manor of Deceit“. With the success of the Pathfinder RPG version of “The Hidden Current”, Jeff is now releasing both 4e and PFRPG versions of each module as they come out so fans of either system will be able to continue their adventures in the “Dark Veil” campaign arc.
And what an adventure it is. In Jeff’s forward to this volume he talks about his introduction to Dungeons and Dragons in the early 80’s and one particular module which has continually inspired him. The classic module U1 “The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh” is a favorite by many and “The Manor of Deceit” is Jeff’s homage to this great piece of adventure material. So let’s see how it stacks up to the classic.
For starters, this module follows the pattern of “The Hidden Current” in layout and GM aids. In the 72 page PDF you will find pages 37-72 dedicated to beautiful full-color printable map tiles that correspond to a specific encounter within the adventure itself. Some of these maps get pretty epic and I got excited just imagining my players rolling through them. Also from pages 32-36 you get another batch of extremely helpful encounter cheat sheets with stat blocks for all of the critters and npc’s in each of the encounters in the module. These are immeasurably helpful in my opinion and should be standard fare in any adventure module.
Now for the meat and potatoes of the module. The first 3 pages are given over to the cover, title, and foreward and a few pages scattered through the adventure text itself are occupied by full page pieces of art. For background Jeff introduces us to the city of Gull’s Port, a major urban center, 230 miles south of Boarland Falls (introduced in the first module). Along with some background and history we get write-ups for several major NPCs that will be interacted with during the adventure.
The adventure itself is an excellent balance of mystery, puzzles, investigation, discovery, and surprises. The encounters are all well-balanced and designed to intelligently fit in to their surroundings. There is a very diverse array of challenges including combat, puzzles, and roleplay so definitely something for everyone. The storyline is advanced somewhat, but there is no hurry since the group is still rather low level and getting their feet wet. Speaking of level, this is designed for a group of level 2 characters and will easily see them through to level 3. The adventure can definitely be scaled for higher level characters with only a little bit of tweaking to the encounters.
The artwork is a vast improvement versus the first module. Each piece contributes something to the work and are all very well done in my opinion. The NPC portraits in particular really convey a sense of the characters. One thing in particular that I really like is the use of the same style of cover. When modules are all in a series I really like it when they have matching cover layouts. Just makes me all tingly inside.
Overall this is another winner in my opinion. The adventure is a little more focused that the first module due to being in an urban as opposed to wilderness area. There is much potential presenter for the GM to see side-adventures throughout. If you are wanting to continue the “Dark Veil” campaign arc then this is a no brainer. If you are looking for a good urban adventure with a haunted house then I highly recommend that you check this one out. The module can easily plug into any campaign world and would make a great asset in any GM’s library.
Disclaimer: I won this pdf in a contest held by the publisher and as such it has been provided free of charge.