"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

King of Spring - Agone, Protect the Dead


Some time ago I wrote about Agone which is a game I am fascinated with but have  never had a chance to give a full run through for any period of time. The King  of Spring is the first adventure released for it (at least here in the United  States). The system refers to them as dramas and given the higher level of role  playing involved I think it deserves that label.

Though it is treated as an adventure the drama in my opinion would be better  served as a drawn out story arc with other events placed between the three acts  that make up the drama. This is not required but I think it would make the  adventure play better. Using it as written though possible makes it seems a  little rushed and perhaps contrived.

It is a drama that grows as it progresses starting out as a simple mystery to solve and growing into something much larger and more sinister eventually  threatening the realms of the adventurers. The drama starts with the characters  being asked to help the Baron of a neighboring realm stave off a curse that has  plagued his family for over seven hundred years. I wont go into it much further  than that except to say it becomes much more than that.

The cover of Agone is one of the first reason I ever picked up the game to see  what it was all about. The cover to the King of Spring picks up right where the  cover of the core rulebook left off. I wish more modules and games went with  this type and level of art in their products. The interior art and layout though  spartan is well done and has an overall appeal using if not the same page  framing as the rulebook one that is very close.

The adventure is again one that is more roleplaying than combat though it is not  without that. In the end it might take a special group to appreciate Agone in general and King of Spring specifically. If the group is looking for a dungeon  crawl this won't be for them. If the players want a game steeped in drama and  political intrigue with a number of mysteries to solve...and oh yeah combat in a  level that might be realistic then this is for them. The game and the module can  be picked up very reasonably so I think it is worth giving it a try.


Published: 2001
Pages: 64

From the back cover:

With the coming of winter, all doors and shutters in Gloomwind are locked tight.  The inhabitants live along with their fear, as their baron suffers from his  curse. The pall of death has fallen upon the Barony of Melif once again...

With the coming of winter, seasonlings of Spring and Summer are weakened by the  bitter cold of the Draaken Mountains. Yet, war is imminent. The Decans have awoken ancient enmities.

With the coming of winter, the eminences grise ensconce themselves in safe  hiding places and exchange dark secrets. They plot the destiny of Harmundia and  its rulers. Perhaps, they may discover a Sentence from the immortal Janus to  restore peace to the land.

The King of Spring is a ready-to-play Drama for a Troupe of four to six  Inspired.

As the Troupe goes to the assistance of the Baron of Melif, the Inspired have  many strange encounters and attract the attention of unexpected enemies to their  Domain. War is at the gates. The Legions of the Seasons begin to confront one  another openly, and to target the members of the Troupe.

What did the Inspired do?
Are they victims of someone's sinister machinations?
Or of destiny itself?
How can they overcome their unknown enemy?





Spell:

Protect the Dead


Level: Third
Range: 6"
Duration: 2 Rounds/Level
Area of Effect: 6" Radius
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes a sphere of protection to appear  that will partially shield any undead in its area of effect from harm. It will  also make the undead more effective in combat at the same time.

While in the area of effect any undead will have any damage done to them reduced  by one point per every die that is rolled. In addition they will receive a +2 to  any saving throw that they are required to make. If there are attempts to turn  the undead by a cleric that roll will be made at a -4 and the undead can not be  destroyed while under the spells effect. In addition to the protection the  undead will get a +1 added to all to hit and damage rolls and any saves from  special attacks by the undead will be made at a -2.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Age of Empire, Gaze Reflection


Age of Empire is a game I picked up somewhere but for the life of me I can not  remember where. I know I have been fascinated with the Victorian setting for  games. I thought that the era with it being one of exploration and discovery  made it ripe with ideas for adventure. I had thought of it as strictly in a  "modern" setting though.

Age of Empire and Castle Falkenstine before it opened up whole new avenues of  adventure for me to consider. I am afraid that there has only been avenues for  me to explore in my head to this point with Age of Empire. The groups I have  been able to play with since discovering these were interested in strictly fantasy or science fiction gaming. I have to make a point of finding a pick up  game of this at a convention some time.

Not having played this I can't give it the proper review that it deserves but I  wanted to write a little about it. This sets itself apart from Castle  Falkenstine by being a game that adds fantasy the Victorian world and not adding  Victorian elements to a fantasy setting. The differences may seem small but in  game terms it will make a difference in the way the games play.

The system seems fairly straight forward and lean. I think it is a game that  would be easy for players and the DM to pick up and be playing fairly quickly. I  have said before that I favor less complex games as I think that rules often  inhibit role playing. The game uses dice as opposed to the card based mechanics  of Castle Falkenstine which will help make it seem less foreign.

I understand that the game may be harder to find than others though. To begin  with it was released by a smaller company who was later bought and then that  company discontinued the line. There was apparently also some issues with the  name and it being thought to infringe on the Microsoft Age of Empires computer  games. In the end though I know I see this periodically on eBay and have seen it  in used book stores. I would say that if you are a fan of Castle Falkenstine but  have found yourself thinking why not just make it set in the Victorian era this  is the answer for you.

Published: 1995
Pages: 108

From the back cover:

In the Age of Empire, the players take part in creating tales of adventure and  fantasy in the Victorian Age. From the gas-lit, fog enshrouded streets of London  to the wilds of the American west, from the depths of Africa to the hidden  treasures of the Orient, the world of the late 1800's teemed with the intrigue  and excitement of the real world. Age of Empire takes the Victorian setting and  turns it on it's ear. Adding to the mix all manner of fantasy trappings, secret  societies, bizarre technology, alien invasion, criminal masterminds etc.



Spell:

Gaze Reflection


Level: Fourth
Range: 6"
Duration: 1 Round/Level
Area of Effect: 1 Creature/Level
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When cast by the magic user this spell will bestow a immunity to attacks that  are based on gaze. In addition to this the spell will also allow the attack to  be reflected back on the attacker.

While under this spell gaze based attacks such as that of a Medusa will not  affect the intended victim. The intended target should still make a saving throw  versus the attack though. If the saving throw fails then nothing will happen  other than the intended victim being unaffected. If the save is made then the  attack is reflected and the attacker will need to make a save, albeit at a +2,  or be affected by the spell.

The material component of this spell is a small silvered mirror. The mirror is  not consumed with the casting of the spell and may be reused.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Liberation of Geoff, Know Age & Origin

Against the Giants - Liberation of Geoff is one of the 25th Anniversary module  that were released by TSR back in 1999. This one unlike White Plume and Keep  include versions of the original modules that inspired them. They are not the  exact originals but versions that have been modified to be compatible with the  2e game. I would have thought it better to have included exact reprints but one  takes what they can get. The original modules are classics and I won't discuss  too much of them as I would prefer to write about the originals when the time  comes.

The second half of the module is the "Liberation of Geoff" portion of the title.  The premise is that the land of Geoff, located east of the Crystalmist  Mountains, has been occupied by giants and their allies for eight years. It  falls upon the player characters to help defeat the giants and surprise,  surprise liberate Geoff. This section of the module has some good information in  it and makes for a good adventure. The problem that it is not nearly the  adventure that the first half of the book is.

There are no less than 16 towns and/or forts described in the second half of the  module. These could be used even if the module is not played so it provides  information that can be used outside the module which is always nice. The module  provides the DM with three new magic items and a new monster the Horag which is  the result of the union of a hill giant and an ogre. The module includes a  section on giant names which can be used outside the module as well.

In the end this module si a good one to have. I am not sure I would ever use the  second half but the module is one that is worth running. Add to that you have  some version of the three giant modules helps make this something to own. There  are other modules I would seek out first and I would not pay a huge amount of  money for this but if you can find a reasonably priced copy you should pick it  up.


Published: 1999
Pages: 96

From the back cover:

"A decade ago, the land of Geoff was overrun by a horde of giants, ogres, and  evil humanoids, its people either slain, enslaved, or driven into exile. Now at  last the tide has turned. The time to free the people of Geoff from their  servitude to the giantish tyrants has come! But don't forget to watch your step  when you confront the true masters behind the giant clans!

Contains the full text of three classic adventures by Gary Gygax:

    G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
    G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
    G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King


Details eighteen new encounter sites in the war-torn land of Geoff, linked  together to form a grand campaign.

Provides dozens of hours of gameplay as the heroes struggle to free an entire country from the grasp of giant overlords."




Spell:

Know Age & Origin


Level: Third
Range: Touch
Duration: Permanent
Area of Effect: One Item
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 6 Turns
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic user is able to determine the age and point of  origin/creation for any item. This spell will not provide nearly the information  level of a Legend Lore spell but will give the caster something to start with.

The spell will provide the caster with the age in years of the item. This spell  can be used on remains and it will provide the age of birth for the former  being. The spell will also provide an approximate point of origin for the target  of the spell. It will allow the caster to know where the spell was created or  the person born.

The casting of this spell requires that the caster be in physical contact with  the target of the spell. This may in some cases cause the caster to suffer  effects from the target. There is also a connection made between the caster and  the item. There is a percentage chance equal to the xp value of the item in  thousands (1,000 = 1%) that the interest in the item by the caster will be  noticed by someone or something from the items past. If the item remains in the  caster possession this will become a cumulative chance per week of possession.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

AEG - Wilds, Return to the Grave

Wilds is the last of the AEG books that I will be reviewing unless I add the  missing ones in my collection and get around to scanning them for inventory. I  am sure this will happen so I should say the last for a period of time. The collection ends well though as I like Wilds overall.

The Wilderness Survival Guide that released for 1e AD&D is the best thing that  this book could be compared to. It looks at six different specific types of  environments and goes over them in some level of detail. The book starts by  having an overview of outdoor survival. This section is perhaps the best because  it is not specific and addresses concerns that the DM, and as a result, the  players might have dealing with the great outdoors. It deals with the ideas of  building the ecology from the ground up as well as specific advice on how to  build outdoor adventures and encounters. This chapter also added the section on  new uses for old skills and well as new skills and feats.

The specific chapters on the different environments each add a ranger that is  specific to that type of environments. I am not ill disposed to this idea but it  is not something that I would really ever see allowing as a character class but  that is just me. The chapters provide an overview of the specific environment  and what the players might encounter. There are then feats specific to that  environment provided as well as new spells and monsters. There are of course  also a varying number of new prestige classes added for each as well. The environments discussed in the book are:

Desert
Forest
Jungle
Marshes
Mountains
Tundra

As I said I found this book to be in the upper half of all the AEG books I have  been able to look over. I think it may just be that I am partial to the hex  crawl idea and can see more direct usability for the information in the book  than perhaps in others. As with the other books these can be found at a  reasonable cost in the secondary market and suggest any DM interested in outdoor  adventures grab s copy of this.


Published: 2003
Pages: 176

From the publisher:

The wild frontiers of demon-haunted forests, sun-blasted deserts, windswept  glaciers, and rolling plains are now open for adventure with this exciting d20  sourcebook. Features include guidelines for constructing wilderness adventures,  complete with ready-made encounters, new creatures, rules for weather, and other  effects unique to the outdoor environment, plus new prestige classes, feats, and  skills tailored to exploring the wilderness.


From the back of the book:

Go Beyond the Dungeon

This sourcebook expands the venues of adventure, presenting an array of hostile  environments for your wilderness campaigns. From the tundra's deadly cold to the  desert's searing heat, the wilderness offers dangers and threats that make an  angry ogre or hungry troll look like a pushover. With the rules and advice  outlined here, DMs can design adventures that emphasize the environment's  daunting challenges and strange, wondrous realms.

Leave the dungeons behind.

The Wilds Await:
*Over 80 new feats
*Nearly two dozen prestige classes
*New ranger classes for each environment
*40 new spells
*26 monsters
*New rules for six different environments 




Spell:

Return to the Grave


Level: Fourth
Range: 9"
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: 6" Radius
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Negates

This spell allows the magic user to act as a poor mans cleric when it comes to  ridding a party of undead. When the spell is cast it will cause the affected  undead to return to the location of their demise.

The undead who fail the save will immediately turn and proceed to move as directly  as possible to the location in which they died or became undead. They will  continue to make their way to that point for a period of time equal to one turn  plus the caster's level in rounds. Those who make their save will not leave but  will suffer one point of damage per level of the caster.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AEG - War, Eyes of a Mother

The topic of war in a fantasy campaign is not one that I have ever really used  in an serious manner. I have had battles between large forces but never an  ongoing war where things such as the topics discussed in AEG's WAR had to be  considered. This book as the others they have released does a good job of  discussing the topic it intends to cover.

The first chapter of the book is best thought of as a primer for the idea of  warfare in a fantasy environment. It actually goes a little beyond that in  discussing ideas behind war in general and then adds to that by adding the idea  of war in a fantasy campaign. The chapter discusses topics such as the supply  chain and various secondary effects such as the way the war will affect those on  the home front. This is a good chapter for a DM to read to decide if a war based  campaign is one that they would want to run. It will also provide ideas where  the war is secondary to the campaign.

Chapter two is titled War Makes Soldiers and it deals with the rules and changes  connected with characters. This is the section that I have come to appreciate in  the AEG books that deal with new uses for old skills, new skill and new feats.  The bulk of the chapter is dedicated to new prestige classes for player use. The  chapter lays out a total of fifteen new prestige classes. The range from Beast  Handler to Wild Rider. Some of these seem very specialized and I am not sure  players would want to use then as a prestige class. Since the book deals with  War the classes are specialized in that and without running a war based campaign  most of these might find limited use otherwise.

Chapter three deals with one of the more common and sometimes boring in game  term concepts of war, that of the siege. The chapter is a good basic description  of the various types of siege engines that one might find used. It also covers  the various defensive tactics used by those who are on the defensive side of a  siege. This section feature two sidebars that deal with historical uses of siege  equipment. It also feature two magic items connected with sieges of which one is  an artifact that though useful may not be one anyone would want to use.

War Magic is the topic of chapter number four. The chapter begins by discussing  the how the various schools of magic might be used in war. It then transitions  over to the discussion of deities that might be connected in some manner with  the concept of war. It lays out a number of domains that are war themed and as  in the past I have found these something that can be used outside the books  intended topic. The chapter finishes off with new spells and magic items. These  are limited in nature which was a little disappointing.

The final chapter is a little bit of a mixed bag and I found myself wondering if  the topics were cut short and then all lumped together. There were even topics  that I thought should have been included earlier in the book. This is not a deal  breaker for the book but I just found it off. There is a section with very brief  descriptions of types of was such as wars of conquest, civil wars and  rebellions. The chapter then touches on the idea of a war based campaign. This  section has a lot of information and makes one think about the idea at least. It  goes over how each race and then class might see use in that type of campaign.  It also discusses how each alignment would act in a war environment. These are  of course all braod strokes but still provided some good ideas as well as  insights.

Though I might not ever use the book as it was intended and of all the books I  have reviewed so far this is perhaps the one that has the least amount of  portable material it is still a book worth having. If the reader has not had any  previous studies on military topics it is enough of an overview to serve that  purpose. There are also topics such as the effects on the home front that can be  utilized if war is a backdrop and not the focus. It would not be the first of  the AEG books I would buy but I would say a DM would eventually want it.


Published: 2002
Pages: 144

From the Back of the Book:


This is the Tome of Champions

This sourcebook contains everything a GM or player needs for campaigns in war- torn worlds. Regular and irregular troops, closed and open formations, cavalry,  infantry, and artillery are all tools at a Field Commander's disposal. Lift your  banner and join you men in a glorious battle against the forces that oppose your  countrymen.

Up the rebels.

Victory is at Hand:

    * Rules for mass combat
    * 15 prestige classes
    * New gods of war
    * Rules for siege engines
    * New feats
    * New spells and magic items
    * Unit compositions and strategies
    * War campaigns and more




Spell:

Eyes of a Mother


Level: Second
Range: Touch
Duration: 2 Turns + 1 Turn/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user grants the target of the spell an extra  sensory perception ability. The ability will allow the target of the spell to  detect things that are going on behind them.

Though there are no actual sensory organs that will appear the spell will  otherwise allow the recipient to see as if they had eyes in the back of their  head. This will have the effect of making the target unable to be surprised  except by invisible or similarly shielded creatures. The target of the spell  will also be immune to backstab attacks while the spell is in effect. An odd  side effect of this spell is that if the target is in fact a mother then the   duration will be doubled.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Monday, January 23, 2012

AEG Undead, Share Strength

The undead have always been one of my favorite types of monsters. I remember  reading Dracula growing up and thinking that he was a great villain. Throughout  the years that appreciation for the potential for undead as major campaign  antagonists has only grown. It has taken a hit over the last few years now that  vampires or not big bads any more but angst ridden teens or love struck metrosexuals.  I am not sure where or when things went south for the poor vampire but it sucks  to be one anymore. Talk about losing all respectability as an evil monster! At least I still have zombies but let's not get into the fast or slow zombie debate.

AEG did a fine job of portraying them in the way they deserve to be shown. I  will not say that this is my favorite of their books i have written about but it  does have a number of good points. As with all of their books there is as much  that can be taken and used in other ways as there is that has to be used as  written.

The first chapter of the book looks at undead in broad stokes. It deals with the  cornerstones of the undead such as why they exist and why some of the living seek to become undead. It serves to lay out the feel of the book. It does a good  job of what it is meant to do though it reads like a term paper at times. There  are sidebars in this section that do go beyond that though and provide excellent  ideas on devices that can be used in the game.

Chapter two provides section that I have come to expect in the AEG books. There are sections on new skills, new uses for old skills and new feats. The chapter  also provides information on something that I have never been shy on expressing  a dislike for. This chapter provides information on no less than fourteen new  prestige classes. Some of these I can see making into opponents of the  characters and some would even make for good characters in fantasy novels but I  do not see anything here that I would ever let a player use. I could see me  using the Wasteland Druid in some fashion in a campaign but not allowing it for  player use.

In the third chapter we get information on magic including the deities that  would be connected with the undead. These are system neutral and could be  dropped in even in an existing campaign as forgotten deities. The chapter also  discusses new clerical domains that can be connected with the worship of undead  related deities. There are of course new spells and new magic items. The chapter  closes off with providing six new artifacts. I can not see using most or any of  these in a campaign but then I may be crazy because every DM wants to allow a +10  Unholy Keen Vorpal Scythe into their campaign....right?

Chapter four presents us with archetypes for most if not all of the standard  types of undead. I think the intent was for these to be used for characters as  much as for NPCs. Since I find it hard to ever see myself allowing undead player  characters into the game this would be limited to use for villains. There is  some great ideas here though. I can see a DM taking some of these and using them  to make very memorable villains or NPCs for their players. I would not allow an  undead character but an undead benefactor or mentor is another story.

In Chapter five the topic turns to an undead campaign. There are things here  that I can see using in a campaign but not one where the entire topic is undead  connected and never one where the players are undead. There is still good  information here for the DM to borrow and steal from. The section on settings  ranging form low magic to ultra modern are nice sources of ideas. If allowing  players in an undead form or a strictly undead campaign is something a DM would  allow they will appreciate the section.

The final chapter deals with the creation of both liches and mummies. This is  something that a DM could use as a blueprint for an NPC trying this out or if a  player wanted to end their character and perhaps run them as an NPC both of  these would be options they might consider. The section has parts written in  character and these are fun to read. I wish that more of the book had been  written in character as it were.

Undead like all of the other AEG books I have reviewed so far are worth picking  up. This is by no means a book I regret having though too large a portion is  dedicated to prestige classes for my taste. In the end the sections on magic and  the archetypes for the undead are the highlights for me.

Published: 2001
Pages: 128

From the Back of the Book:

This is a Guide to Immortality

This sourcebook contains everything a GM or player needs for campaigns and  adventures involving undeath. All of the torments of hell are bound within these  pages. Undead and undead hunter prestige classes, magic items and artifacts for  life and unlife, and details on the rituals of mummifications and lichdom are  detailed within.

The text within this tome is forbidden, its secrets damnable. The records of  undeath cost more than any can afford.

Flesh is an Illusion

    * New feats
    * 13 new prestige classes
    * New divine domains
    * Returning from the grave
    * New spells and magic items
    * New gods
    * Undead campaigns
    * Faith Hunters and more




Spell:

Share Strength


Level: Fourth
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 Turn + 1 Turn/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 5 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user allows other characters or NPCs to share  their strength with the target creature. The strength that is shared is not a  perfect transfer and there is a recovery time for those sharing the strength.

To share their strength the willing must be in either direct or indirect contact  with the recipient of the strength. The type of contact does not matter but they  must remain in contact until the casting of the spell is complete. They can join  anytime during the casting of the spell though.

Each person sharing their strength will donate two points of strength to the  cause. The recipient will only receive one of these though. The calculation of  the recipients strength will not take percentile strength into account. The  additional strength will go from 18 to 19 directly. The recipients strength will  max out at 25.

The donated strength will return though in parts. The donated strength will  return at a rate of one point per day starting the day after the spell is cast.  The recipient of the spell will also suffer a strength loss when the spell  expires. They will lose one point of strength until such time as they have had  eight hours of uninterrupted rest.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

AEG - Mercenaries, Will of Atlas

Mercenaries is best described as a sourcebook with an identity crisis. Most of  the other AEG source books have been very specific about their topic and have  done a good job sticking to that topic. Nothing could be further from the truth  with Mercenaries. With that being said this may be one of the best general  source books they have produces...and they talk about mercenaries to boot.

The first two chapters deal with new races and new classes. These are actual  classes and not prestige classes....those come later. There are suggestions on  how the races might be mercenaries and the classes as described could be ones  that might be common for mercenaries but they still seem a little forced in a  book dealing with mercenaries. Both have items that work and others that fail. I  have a problem with races that number less than 200 would they not be considered  something other than a race (and the numbers are not low by death or genocide).

Chapters three and four deal with Feats and Skills. These will be of interest to  both the DM and player. The chapters contain good information and as in other  books the section detailing new uses for old skills provides one with ideas and  should help get the creative juices flowing. The section of Feats contains both  new and old information. Some of the Feats are reprinted from the Dungeons  offering.

It is in chapter five that we get our first real state of the topic of the book.  This section paints a good overview of mercenaries. The section on alignments  was of particular interest. The chapter also lays out what it calls the  Mercenary Profiles. I am not sure why that was chosen but it is best thought of  a primer on how to be an effective mercenary. We also get information on deities  that would be favored by mercenaries and an good synopsis of types of contacts  mercenaries might have.

Chapter six is one of the ones I like best and also one of the ones that might  not be material that belongs here. The section is on equipment and it has a  wealth of information on equipment including availability and costs. It also  lays out information the costs for services and information. It also contains  information on a vast array of new equipment including adventuring gear,  weapons, armor and a smattering of topics that seem thrown in.

In the seventh chapter we have a list of new spells for the classes described in  chapter two. There are also other lists for spells by domain that are nice  though again I am not sure if this was the venue. There are also spells for  exiting classes that are included though not all or even most would seem to be  mercenary related. All of that aside this is another section that is very useful  just not on topic.

Chapter eight takes on an interesting topic in a book on mercenaries...that of  mercenaries. This is the meat and potatoes of the books topic. It also covers  skirmishes which are rules for larger unit combat. The rules work and I can see  a connection to the topic at hand but I might have broken it out into its own  section. The chapter goes over the chance of finding mercenaries, their cost and  goes over morale for mercenaries. It also contains a number of tables the DM can  use to generate random mercenaries which is nice. Also here are 100 plot hooks  that can be used even without mercenaries being the focus.

In the ninth chapter the topic is Mercenary Companies. The chapter spends the  first portion of it going over specific roles of mercenaries though. Regardless  this is good information. When it gets to the companies portion...wait I forgot  they provide three or four examples of mercenary legends. When they get to the  companies this is again good information and generic enough to drop into any campaign and really system.

Chapter 10 lays out the rules for no less than 23 new prestige classes. This is  as you may have guessed a section I could live without though some of the  information provides ideas that could be used elsewhere and in other ways. I am  not sure Fifth Column needs to be a prestige class but it does make me think  about including a resistance element in a campaign and the The Grey Walkers  won't make me want to allow Druids to use this class but it does reinforce my thought that there will be good and evil druids alongside the neutral ones and  they need their own groups.

Chapter eleven deals with Magic items. It offers a fair number of new ones as  well as introducing classes of magic items. This is akin to the templates used  for monsters and though I am not as big a fan of them for monsters I do like the  idea for magic items. This is again a chapter that though could be mercenary  related seems to be thrown in.

Finally in chapter twelve we get new monsters. Not sure how this is mercenary  related but one can never have too many monsters in their arsenal no can they.  The collection is a good hodgepodge collection of creatures of differing levels  and uses. The Mesmeric Crawler and Nith are ones that I took a particular like  to.

Overall the book is a good book on mercenaries and an excellent sourcebook on  general and vaguely related mercenary topics. I think a DM will use it for  mercenaries when they have too but will find many other uses for it as well and  they might even forget about it when it came time for mercenaries as they have  used it for so many other things. It is good they put Mercenaries on the cover  and spine to remind us.


Published: 2002
Pages: 256

From the back of the book:


Money is the only goal worth dying for; mercenaries know this, and have learned  profit from their wisdom.

This sourcebook is the perfect resource for playing mercenaries and running  mercenary campaigns. Inside these 256 pages you'll find new races, classes,  feats and magic - everything DM's and players need for endless adventuring  opportunities.




Spell:

Will of Atlas


Level: Fourth
Range: Touch
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: One Humanoid
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic user will bestow virtually unlimited strength  upon the target creature. The strength is limited in its uses and its duration  though.

This spell will allow the target to lift and carry any item regardless of it's  size and weight. The item lifted will need to be a single solid item. It would  not allow the target to lift a castle but a gigantic bronze statues is possible.  The item needs to be something that is freestanding and movable.

Once the item is lifted then the target will be able to carry it for as long as  needed. The spell will remain in effect for as long as the target is carrying  the item. If they ever sit the item down or drop it then the spell will end and  the item will not be movable again without use of the spell.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last,  were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not  appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then  it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells  that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to  comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these  in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper  credit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Legend of the Five Rings, Find A Mark

Legend of the Five Rings is a game that I have basically no  experience with. I have always heard people say good things about  it. This is one of those games that I had the misfortune of  missing as it came out during the period of time where I was  under the influence of the addictive ink that use on Magic cards.

As I have mentioned before I fell in love with the idea of  playing in an oriental setting back when TSR released their  Oriental Adventures but never had the chance. I had seen Legend  of the Five Rings first as another collectible card game. I had  fallen prey to other card games such as Wyvern and Star Trek  which both failed to live up to Magic, I had even tried Jyhad  which was later Vampire: the Eternal Struggle. Having spent time  and money on these I avoided the L5R card game and then this when  released.

This is the first edition of the game and never having played it  I can not say how the newer editions compare to this. From  reading this version the game seems to be as much about setting  as it is about game mechanics which is a good thing. I find that  games with fewer rules often lead to more role playing. I am not  sure if it has ever been put forth as a correlation or the like  but I think there is an indirect relationship between the  complexity of the rules and the ability to role play. If this has  not been done perhaps it can be called the Wymarc Scale.

Getting back to the task at hand though I think that Legend of  the Five Rings in the AEG editions at least would be a fine  addition to anyone's game collection. I know that there have been  at least four editions put out by AEG and then the setting was  used for the 3e OA products. I can only make educated suggestions  though as I have no direct experience with the game play.

Published: 1996
Pages: 256

From the introduction:

Welcome to Rokugan, the Emerald Empire(TM). Rokugan is a place of  mystery and wonder, inspired by the legends of feudal Japan and  other places in the far East. It's a world of samurai and ninja  and spellcasting shugenja, where dragons soar the skies and  danger lurks in every shadow. The Legend of the Five Rings Role- Playing Game (L5R RPG) allows you to take the role of one of  those legendary figures in search of honor, glory, and adventure.




Spell:

Find A Mark


Level: Third
Range: 6"
Duration: 1 Round/Level
Area of Effect: One Missile Weapon
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 5 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast by the magic user it must be cast on a  hand held missile weapon. It will cause any ammo shot from that  weapon to hit something.

When ammo is shot/fired or slung from the missile weapon it will  have a +2 to hit the desired target. If this does not occur even  with the bonus to hit the projectile will continue on trying to  hit another target.

After the initial target the next possible target would be chosen  at random, excluding the shooter, from all inside the initial  range of the missile. The missile can travel as far as needed to  hit further than it's range would allow but can not exceed that  in a maximum distance from the point of origin.

If it misses it's second target it will continue on until all  possible targets have been exhausted. If the only possible target  remaining is the individual shooting the missile then they will be  struck by it. If by some means the shooter is incapable of being  hit by the missile by means of other spells or abilities then the  whole process begins again.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Friday, January 20, 2012

AEG - Guilds, Mirror Universe

Guilds is an AEG book that I have mixed feelings about. I am a  fan of it but I know that I can sometimes fall into a place where  I like to be a little too manipulative and control the plot of  the campaign. I know this is something that is needed but not  always wanted and perhaps not to the intent I like to take it  sometimes. Guilds allows the GM another great avenue to input  plot devices and control the players in some fashion.

The book is going to be very dry for most DMs in mu humble  opinion. Most players will also not see the implementation of  Guilds in a fashionable manner. I think it adds a layer of  realism and also an increased role playing potential. This can  sometimes split a party though. I recall a group with two  distinct camps where one group loved to role play almost  everything and the others half or so wanted nothing to do with  bartering in a city.

The book does exactly what it's name would suggest that it does.  It lays out the idea of guilds in a fantasy campaign in great  detail. It goes over this in such a way that I think it would  serve as a great reference to a fantasy writer who was going to  implement guilds in a piece of fiction. After reading it for the  first time I could even see a book written just about the guild  from the ground up. I think it would be a mash up of the Gord  series, Beckett and Pillars of the Earth from the perspective of  the organization. I can even hear "the Guild" as a narrator.

The book has five chapters and then an appendix. This book saves  the prestige classes for the last chapter as opposed to leading  off with them though they are still there. In the premise of  reference material for fiction I found this somewhat more  palatable. The chapters are as follows:

Guild Basics
Benefits of a Guild
Guild Creation/Operation
Sample Guilds
DMing Guilds
Appendix: Sample Contacts and Adventure Ideas

The first three chapters are the driest portion of the book but  even these are useful and informative. In addition to information  on the guild just reading these section gives the DM some ideas  on plot ideas even if the guilds are not used directly. The  second chapter is the one that would be of most interest to  players. It includes new spells, feats and equipment.

The fourth section was the one I found the most useful and  enjoyed the most. The DM can take any of these guilds and drop  them right into any campaign with only minor work. This section  gives the DM a Guild Stat Block which they can work from to easily create a high level overview of a guild.

Chapter five even with the prestige classes was good. It gives a lot of solid ideas and examples on adventures that can be used  with the implementation of guilds. The sections covering the  maintenance of a PD operated guild will be of great use if that  were to ever happen in a campaign. Some of the information could  even be adapted to other PC operated ventures.

The appendix may actually be the gem of the book though. Anytime  I can get a collection of premade and well described NPCs I am  going to be a happy camper. In addition to the NPCs there is also  a list of 100 plot hooks or adventure threads for the DM to use.  This is to a large extent something that could be sued even if  the players are not guild members or there is extensive use of  the other information in the book.

The book may not be for everyone but if you like the idea of  Guilds it will be essential or close to it. If you want to add  something that can either direct the characters or give them  direction a Guild might be an option that goes beyond quests or  adventures. It is very much like kingdom management on a smaller  scale. As with most of the AEG books the information is system  specific but can be worked into system neutrality. I am glad I own this one and think if it can be picked up at the right price  most would appreciate it.


Published: 2004
Pages: 160

From the publisher:

It's not what you know. It's who you know. Add more detail and  flavor to your d20 fantasy games with Guilds, a book that  introduces arcane orders, fraternal brotherhoods, secret  conspiracies, and other organizations. Member characters can  receive training, material support, and social connections.  Guilds introduces a new concept to the d20 system: chapters. A  chapter is a social institution that pursues a specific goal.  Characters can join chapters that match their aims, gaining  access to training and other resources that improve their  abilities and further customize their talents.

From the back of the book:

This is the key to the city.

Inside this 128-page book you’ll find rules for creating guilds  of all detail levels and how to manage fantasy economics. Inside,  you’ll find adventures for PCs as members of guilds, rules for  PCs becoming guild masters, and the benefits gleaned from guild  membership. This is not a rigid system locking in your  creativity. It’s loaded with advice, components for various  guilds, and detailed examples for creating a guild for any craft,  profession, class or interest you can imagine!

The hammer and the anvil are one.

New prestige classes
New feats and spells tailored to specific guilds
Six fully defined guilds and over a dozen class guilds
Guild NPCs and plot threads
New equipment
PC-owned fantasy guilds
Complete rules for creating your own guilds, from the ground up




Spell:

Mirror Universe


Level: Seventh
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: One Mirror
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 8 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user converts a standard non  magical mirror into a magical portal. The mirror allows the  caster and in some cases others to enter a different dimension.

The dimension that is enters is actually not a mirror universe  but a pocket mirror universe. The entirety of the universe that  is enters is what is visible in the mirror when the spell is  cast. Entering that universe through the mirror gives access to  anything that is reflected on the mirror. Items inside containers  and such will be there as well. It should be noted that the  mirror in no way reflects those inside or shows what they are  doing. 

While in the mirror those inside will not age or suffer any  harmful effects from spells or any other ill effects from the  actions while in the mirror. Those inside will not need to eat,  drink or sleep while in the mirror. The caster can normally only  bring themselves through the mirror. If they have an intelligence  in excess of 19 they can bring one person per point in excess of  19 through as well.

Those in the mirror can stay there indefinitely. If the caster  leaves the spell is ended though. It is possible for the caster  to leave and strand any companions. There is a 5% cumulative  chance per day after a period of one week that the magic will  become unstable though. When this happens there are a number of  possible results that can occur. The possible results are below:

25% - Cast into the original plane outside mirror
25% - Cast into the original plane but at a random location
25% - Cast into an alternate plane of existence
15% - Cast into the Astral or Ethereal plane (equal chance)
10% - Trapped in dimension (Wish required to extract)

The material component of this spell is the mirror that the spell  is cast on. While the spell is in effect the mirror will radiate  magic. It is not unheard of for mirrors so enchanted to be  thought of as real magic items and moved to different locations.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

AEG - Good, Startle

As I have said before I have found all of the AEG books along the  lines of Good to be useful in some way. This book has come the  closest to making me regret having said that. The first 50 or so  pages are geared toward nothing more than new kits and prestige  classes. I won't spend much time going over those. Actually that is about all the time they will get.

The third section goes over the topic of Magic. This section is  much better than the previous two but that bar had been set  pretty low. It goes over the summoning of good creatures which is  actually not a topic I recall reading about in any other material  before. The spells and magic items are items that can be borrowed  from and there was nothing so bad in here to make the section  unappealing.

In section four the topic is Heroic Legions. The book refers to  them as scaled down prestige classes and at first glance they  most likely are. I however have always thought clerics had it too  easy in D&D. If they are minions of a deity why are they not  expected to follow the tenants of that deity and even try and  convert the people they adventure with. A cleric should never be traveling around in a group that were not all of the same belief  or close to them.

This section lays out the idea of faith points which are awarded  based on Deeds or taken away for Transgressions. The section lays  out good examples of Deeds and Transgressions for different types  of deities. The Faith Points can then be used to gain what the  book calls Boons. These are abilities awarded by the deity to the  faithful. Once spent the character has to start accumulating them  again. There are also Banes which are to be applied to those who  waiver in their faith. The Banes might not be as well thought out  or useful as the Boons but they could be adapted. Section four  also lays out the idea of Groups and Orders which I think would  greatly add to the role playing potential of clerics and other  religious based classes in the game.

The final section gives the DM a fairly broad selection of new  monsters. New monsters are never a bad thing provided they are  not overly silly or too powerful. Some of the creatures in this  section come close to crossing the line in both directions. In  the end though taken in context they end up be acceptable for the  topic of the book. I am not sure that most of them would ever  find widespread use in any campaign I was running but then again  one never knows.

Bypassing the first two chapters the book ends up redeeming  itself. The prestige classes and kits are most likely something  that DMs will use. The kits provide ideas for characters but I am  seeing the beauty in the post on another blog (forget which  sorry) about this is suck and this is you. The characters start  as adventurers and become heroes. I say let them develop over  time. If they want a back story let them have it but let them  pick their profession as they learn just like a college kid  declaring a major. In the end the book is worth it but I would  pick up others in the line first. It does have a great cover  though!

Published: 2002
Pages: 128

From the back of the book:


The World Needs Heroes

Fantasy games have long allowed players to take the roles of  mighty heroes battling demons, dragons, giants, and other  villains. This sourcebook expands the options for good  characters, presenting new magic items, heroic orders, new  paladin classes to give every facet of good its champions, and  rules that allow the gods to have a tangible effect on a  character's actions and choices.

There's never been a better time to be a hero.

It's Time to Save the Day!

*New artifacts
*Heroic orders
*New divine allies
*New classes and prestige classes
*Worship points system
*New magic systems 




Spell:

Startle


Level: Second
Range: 6"
Duration: 1 Round + 1 Round/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: Negates

When this spell is cast the magic user causes the target creature  to become endowed with the ability to startle creatures viewing  them. This spell will have varying effects based on the level of  the victims and their saving throw.

The initial effect of the spell will cause all seeing the target  to spend the remainder of the round the spell is cast or their  portion of the following round, if they have already acted the  round this spell was cast, startled not being able to take any  action. Those affected will need to roll a saving throw after the  first round.

Those of a lower level than the target of the spell who fail will  turn and flee in terror for the reminder of the spells duration.  Those who make their save will spend one more round startled and  unable to do more than defend themselves. After that round they  will suffer a -2 to hit and to all saves for the duration of the  spell their confidence shaken.

Those of the same level or higher than the target of the spell  who fail their save will suffer the same effect as those who made  their save but were lower level. Those who make the save will  actually be embarrassed that they were affected in such a way and  will become emboldened. They will get a +1 to hit as well on  saves and with damage.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back Tomorrow


PS I hope this image was OK to use. Talk about irony.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

AEG Dungeons, White Rabbit

Dungeons is again one of the earlier supplements for the 3e of  D&D. Though written for the 3e it is generic enough in nature  that it can be used by a DM for almost any game system. The items  that are specific can easily be adapted. I find that the earlier  books written for the new system are much more generic in nature  and tend to shy away more than later one on hardcore rules.

This book comes in at 120 pages and is broken down into four  major section. The first two section are informative in nature  and pain dungeons in broad strokes avoiding a lot of system  specific type on information. The second two section are geared  first towards the player and then the the Dungeon Master. These  are where you will find your system specific information more than  in the earlier chapters.

The first section is Tips and Tricks. It contains a mixture of  information that is geared towards the player as well as the DM  though most of it will be DM level advice. The section covers a  variety of topics with some of the highlights being mapping,  equipment and traps. One of the other topics covered though is  dungeon ecology and this is something that I find is often  overlooked when designing a dungeon.

The second section goes over the various types of dungeons that  the players might encounter. The book puts forth that there are  eight types of dungeon. Each of these is covered in great detail.  The dungeon types are Fortress, Madman's Lair, Mine, Caverns,  Sewers, Subterranean Communities, Temple and Tombs. I want to  stress how much I liked this section. Each of the types has  specific questions raised about what might be specific to that  dungeon type and things to consider when designing it.

The third section is the 3e specific portion of the book for the  players. This section contains everything that one has come to  expect for a 3e supplement. It has lists of new feats and skills  for the players to use. It also has new spells but also some  mundane items that would be dungeon specific for the players to  utilize. Finally it has four new prestige classes for players to  use. I won't go into too much detail on these as I have a known  bias against prestige classes.

The fourth section is geared towards the DM. This is something  that is still 3e specific but I find that these are items that  are more easily ported to other systems and are therefore more  forgiving to them for some reason. It again has all the standard  fare for 3e books. It has seven new monsters with a new template  to be applied to monsters. It also includes seven additional  magic items for the DM to use in the dungeons they design.  Finally it includes some items that are closer to being system  neutral. It has new traps as well as three sample dungeons.  Though written edition specific one can always steal maps and  content for conversion.

Overall I have to say the book is worth picking up. It has enough  general information that makes it good for use with any game  system that would feature dungeons. The system specific  information is there but many parts can easily be adapted with  little effort and what is there is well done. The layout of the  book and the art used are well done and in no way a detriment to  the book.

Published: 2001
Pages: 120

From the back of the book:

The Definitive Guide to Dungeons and Catacombs for Players and  DMs Alike

Dungeons are an integral part of fantasy gaming, but there's far  more to them than just stone corridors and random monsters. This  book contains a plethora of tips, tricks and rules to help make  your dungeons the stuff of legend. It includes essays on design  and construction, overviews of different dungeon types, player  advice for surviving underground perils, and a host of new rules,  spells, monsters, and magic items.




Spell:

White Rabbit


Level: Second
Range: 3"
Duration: 2 Rounds + 1 Round/Level
Area of Effect: 1 Creature/Level
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Negates

When this spell is cast the magic user causes an illusion of some  weird creature or individual to appear behind the party. Other  than those in the caster's party will find their attention drawn  to this manifestation unless a saving throw is made.

The illusion once created will perform actions to draw as much  attention to itself from all around. This is most often  accomplished by running into the center of the room and making a  scene of some sort. It will then run away in the manner best used to  draw away those in pursuit from the caster.

While the spell is in effect any attempt to hit or cast spells on  the illusion will seem to work but not cause the illusion enough  damage to stop its flight. Those who fail their save will pursue  the illusion until such time as it vanishes. Any attack on the  victims will cause them to forget the illusion though and return  their attention to the party.

By default the illusion will be a largish white rabbit dressed in  fine clothes and with the ability to talk. It will complain how  late it is be in an apparent state of confusion about where it  is. The player can of course make it anything they want but  unless specified it will be a talking white rabbit.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Monday, January 16, 2012

AEG Evil, Hide In Plain Sight

"No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks." - Mary Wollstonecraft

Evil by AEG is one of those books that I think every GM needs in their library of reference material. I think it makes an excellent companion to the "Complete Book of Villains" which I have written about in the past. I don't think of this as it's equal but more of a top notch sidekick.

The warning on the back can be a little scary for any that have ever read the Adult Content sticker on the Book of Vile Darkness. Let me assuage any fears that this book might go as deep as the other in it's exploration of evil. I guess the emphasis on the other should be that it's title is vile darkness. I think this book is more of a top level view of evil and not an expose on the depth of the darkness that evil can bring.

The book is divided into two sections. The first of them is the portion exploring why evil exists and how to create evil characters. I have been in a few evil campaigns and have never much cared for them. I have found they quickly become a contest to see who can commit the greatest atrocity. I would instead suggest that this can be sued best for the construction of believable in depth villains for the campaign.

The second section is intended to help the GM create and run an ongoing evil campaign. This is again something I would not ever find myself participating in again. I guess I like my games more on what would be considered the traditional side of heroic fantasy. I understand the desire for the other and one can hardly understand good without knowing something of evil or so I would think. The GM can use this though even in a good campaign. The information could be used to make a richer more detailed setting for adventures where the heroes venture to fight.

This book does touch on some dark themes though and it is not something I would suggest letting younger children read. Not that it has anything that they have not seen on network TV or the news but that it puts for evil in a way that it can almost be accepted and understood. The writes did a good job of injecting material that would warn readers that what is being said is wrong but a less mature more impressionable reader might miss those.

I again think that this is a worthy acquisition for any GM and it can be used as intended or as a sourcebook for how to create better villains. It belongs next to the Complete Book of Villains and also beside in many cases the Book of Vile Darkness. I think the last book has uses also it is just a little too explicit for the average reader.


Published: 2001
Pages: 128

From the Back of the Book:

This is a Descent into Darkness

This sourcebook contains everything a GM or players needs to design imposing villains and use them to thwart the efforts of heroes everywhere. Join the crusade for tyranny, injustice, and oppression, or give your campaign's villains an extra edge.

The text within this book is not for children. It is a journey from which you can never come back.

Just Remember, You Were Warned

    * New feats
    * New prestige classes
    * New spells
    * New divine domains
    * New monsters
    * New gods
    * New magic items
    * Tips for running evil campaigns




Spell:

Hide In Plain Sight


Level: Third
Range: Touch
Duration: Until Dispelled
Area of Effect: One Item
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 6 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

By means of this spell the magic user causes a single object to  become enchanted. The enchantment will cause any who look upon it  while trying to locate it to see it as something else. This spell  has no effect on the caster trying to locate the item.

The purpose of this spell is to allow the caster to keep an item  of value that they may need to use on a regular basis out in  plain sight where they can get to it easily. The spell will cause  any looking for the specific item to see it as something other  than what it really is. It may appear as the same basic item but  one of much lesser value or importance.

This spell cast on the magic users spell book would allow them to  keep it lying on the table in their workroom. Any that might come  looking for it would see it as say a treatise on dung beetles or  the like. The spell will also cause those looking for the item to  forget that they may have seen it before as the actual item when  not looking for it.

This spell will remain in effect on the item until such time as  someone actually find the item while looking for it. There is no  initial save versus this effect. If anyone picks up the item and  examines it for more than two rounds while looking for the item  they are entitled to a saving throw though. Each round spent  looking over the item entitles them to another saving throw.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

AEG - Dragons, Twisted Vision

I recently wrote about the Draconomicon and had some concerns  about the way it portrayed and handled dragons. I still believe  that a character should be able to go their whole adventuring  life and never see a dragon. Even though the game it was designed  for has it in the name encountering a dragon should be a  memorable event in both magnitude and rarity.

I think Dragons by AEG does a better job than Draconomicon. It is  still a D20 splat book by any other name though so it is not  something I am ever going to be in love with. The book is filled  with both good and bad but the good is better than the best in  the Draconomicon and the worst is either on the same level or  marginally better.

The book has some great sections that even if you never encounter  a dragon that the DM can use for their game. Dragons as magical  beasts have always been as much a treasure as the piles of coins  and items they guard in their horde. The sections on Dragon  Alchemy and From the Belly of the Dragon both offer ideas on how  a dragon could be turned into valuables even if they never have  any coin.

The book also has sections that will help make the encounter with  the dragon much more deadly and memorable if that type of  encounter ever were to happen. The book lays out sections on  Dragon Tactics and Dragon Lairs which will help give the  encounter the added touch to help turn the dragon from a monster  to an epic foe. The sections on Dragon Magic and Dragon Artifacts  can be pillaged for ideas if a dragon is ever encountered or not.

As I suggested the book has it's bad points as well. The prestige  classes though not all bad have an option for characters who have  dragon in their bloodline. I guess no one would ever want to play  that now would they. I can be normal or I can come from a line of  mythical beasts and have great power. Sign me up for option  A...not. I won't go into the section on Playing Dragon  Characters. There are other portions of the book that I can't see  a use for or find distasteful but I think the book overall is  worth trying to talk positive about.

I have found the AEG products to be well done and think they can  transcend the 3.x limitation and be used for almost any system in  some manner. They can still be found quite easily in the secondary  market and for prices much cheaper than the cover price. I think  this book in general though would be a worthy addition to a DM's  library.

Published: 2002
Pages: 208

From the publisher:

This sourcebook contains everything a GM or player needs to  campaign in a world of dragons. Hunting, training, or riding them  - even cutting up the pieces and selling them for alchemical  powders - all these possibilities lie within the pages of this  tome. Carry well the knowledge you have been lent.

New feats
New prestige classes
New magic items
Draconic alchemy
New monsters
New spells
Dragon lairs
New Dragon types



Spell:

Twisted Vision


Level: Third
Range: 9"
Duration: 5 Rounds + 1 Round/Level
Area of Effect: 1 Creature/Level
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Negates

When this spell is cast the magic user causes the vision of the  affected creatures to twist. This will have the effect of causing  them to see things other than they really are.

The spell will cause those affected to see the casters party as  members of their group. The reverse will also be true in that they  will see their group as the casters group. The victims vision  will fade for the two segments while the spell is being cast and  then restored with the twisted vision.

Those affected by this spell will be allowed an initial saving  throw though this save will be made at a -2.  As action proceed  the affected will be allowed a new save each time something  occurs that might suggest things are not what they seem and these  are made as normal saves. Once one individual has made their save  a +1 per person who has made a save is added to any other  attempted saves.

At no point is the caster's party affected by this spell unless  it is cast by another magic use in the opposing party. If this  were to happen the DM will need to make a roll each round to see  what spell is affecting each person if both parties are affected.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adventures in the Northern Wolderness, Magical Sting

The Palladium Role Playing Game has always been one that I have  had a soft spot for. I am not sure why but I always have. I know  that the time period when it was released had something to do  with it. I had just graduated high school (please no one do that  math) so I had free time and a larger player base to draw from.  It was also the system though. I remember thinking it cool to be  able to play races like Ogres, Trolls and Changelings.

The Adventures In the Northern Wilderness supplement added some  great information on the Wolfen. This was not a race that I had  any interest in for a long period of time until I saw this cover.  I think of this cover to a great extent when I think of the game  any more. The book also spends some time going over the  environmental concerns in dealing with adventures in the north. I  think that this should have been expanded on even more but then  that leaves room for the GM to put their own stamp on it.

The book spends a some of its space dealing with the tribes and  politics of the Wolfen Empire. I think that this is something  that should have been expanded on even more than the weather.  There is enough there to build a framework off of but other areas  in the game world received a better treatment.

The real strength of this book is the six included adventures.  Each of these are of varying length but each holds up well on  their own and would provide the GM enough information to run as  printed or serve as the start for something grander if they chose  to work off of the adventure.

If there is an area that I think the book has a notable weakness in it would have to be some of the interior art. As  great as the cover is some of the interior art leaves something  to be desired. The work by Kevin Long is as always good but some  of the other art is not up to what I would have expected from a  professional book of this quality. It may have been an attempt to  capture the rough nature of the area it is set in. I will leave  it at that and hope that it is right.

I think all of the Palladium fantasy books are worth owning. Even  if you never play the system the books are gold mines of maps and  ideas. Many of the books seem to still be in print or were up to  some point in the recent past. This is one of the last ones that  went out of print and it crossed the editions of the game or was  right at the end of the first edition. Still the books can be  found fairly inexpensive online and I would suggest picking up  any you can.

Published: 1989
Pages: 96

Front cover summary: 

An adventure and source book for the  Palladium RPG. Six stunning adventures!

User summary: 

Adventures in the Northern Wilderness is a 96-page  sourcebook with six adventures: The Pirates of Dragon Claw,  Journey to Darkwood, To Serve the Pixie Crown, Avaxa's Gate, The  Forest of Broken Wings, and A Most Royal Conspiracy. The book  contains rules for traveling during winter and many illustrations  and maps.


Spell:

Magical Sting


Level: Fifth
Range: 9"
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: 6" Radius Sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: Halves + Special

When this spell is cast the magic user causes those in the area  of effect to suffer damage from the magic items in their possession. Those affected are entitled to a save but making the  save could affect the magic items.

The victims of this spell will suffer 1d4 damage to to magical  feedback from the magic items in their possession. Only higher  types of magic items will cause any damage. Potions and Scrolls  will be exempt but rings and wand up would still count. The spell  can cause no more dice of damage than the caster has levels as  well. So if the caster were 12th level and the victim had 20  magical items they would only suffer 12d4 of damage.

The victims of this spell are entitled to a saving throw. If the  save is made they will only suffer half damage. If the save is  made though the mitigated damage will affect the magic items  that caused the damage. Each magic item will need to make a save  at +4 or be destroyed by the magical feedback. Items such as  Artifacts and Relics can not be destroyed in this manner. Instead  the DM will need to come up with an new negative effect upon the owner of the item. This will persist for a number of game months  equal to the owners level at the time of the change.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Miser's Vault

My introduction to Baron Munchausen was via the 1988 movie by  Terry Gilliam called the Adventures of baron Munchausen. I know  the movie is not for everybody but I fell in love with it. I am  not sure that I like it as much as Time Bandits but that is  another story all together.

This is a game I tried to pick un without having to spend too  much money for a long period of time. It seems to go for more  than one would expect and I was finally able to pick it up. This  is the first edition and is much smaller than the later edition  which I have not had a chance to see. As is often the case though  I have not had a chance to play it as of yet.

This is not your traditional role playing game. It is much closer  in nature to Vampire than it is AD&D. There is no dice rolling or even true combat in the game except what is told by the players. It is  often called a story telling game and that is exactly what it is.  A great aspect of the game is that the rule are written in  character as if the good Baron is explaining things to you.  There is a great review of the game in character here. It is for the newer edition of the game but the basics are still the same.

The game is each player trying to spin the best fanciful story  while the other players try to interject on a limited basis  things to complicate, discredit or lessen the story. It is one  that would perhaps best be played with a free flowing quantity of  alcohol at the table. It is not one that can played by everyone  though. Players have to be creative, have a flair for the  dramatic and be able to think on their feet when it comes to  telling a story. I could really see this as a game that DMs play  together in the dark corner of some tavern at a large convention.  This game would also suit itself to play via the online Google+  functionality possibly.

If you can find a copy of the game I would suggest picking it up.  There rules are not really needed past a certain point as it is  fairly straightforward. If anyone ever decides to have a pick up  game on Google+ I would love to hear how it goes.

Published: 1998
Pages: 24


Game Description:

"A Game of Wagers, Wine, and Competitive Lying"


Players, preferably gentlemen from good families, challenge one  another to recount, as outlandishly as possible, their many  exploits, occasionally wagering against the narrator's ability to  incorporate complicating circumstances into the tale.

From the back of the book:

"The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen contains a full  set of rules, background, more than two hundred adventures ready  to be played, a revolutionary system of mechanics that does away  with dice or cards and uses money and fine wine instead, two  combat systems ('duelling' and 'duelling for cowards'), quick- start rules and a great many insults against the inhabitants of  various nations, but principally the French. This game can be  learned in under five minutes, requires no GM or preparation, and  takes about an hour to play. You will require pencil, paper,  imagination, a manservant, money, a selection of fine wines,  noble blood, a sense of flamboyance, and at least one attractive  member of the opposite sex (optional)."



Spell:

Miser's Vault


Level: Seventh
Range: 6"
Duration: Permanent
Area of Effect: One Room
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user is able to create an  protective shield on the exterior of a room. This barrier does  nothing more than prevent any sort of coin from leaving the  confines of the room. For the purpose of this spell bullion and  raw precious metals would be treated as coins.

The spell as stated above will not allow any coins to be cross  any threshold of the room. The spell is not powerful enough to  prevent actions such as the teleportation of coins but nothing  that requires the physical transport of the coins will work. This  will even apply to coins that are out of phase.

Coins can be brought into the room with no problem but once  inside they can only be removed with the knowledge of a special  command word and even then within limitations. The spell will  allow any other item though to removed from the room without  problem including gems and jewelry and magical items unless they  are coins of some type.

The individual who cast the spell will have an individual coin in  the room that has a command word appear on it when the spell is  cast. The command phrase can only be seen by use of a detect  magic spell being cast directly on the coin which will make the  phrase appear. By use of the command word an individual can  remove a number of coins equal to 100 times their intelligence.  This ability will only work once per day and no more than three  times in any given week. Each time it is used there is a 5%  cumulative chance that the command word will change and appear on  another coin. It will be physically impossible short of a Wish  to ever remove the coin with the command phrase on it from the  room.

The material component of this spell will be the coin that has  the command phrase on it. The coin will be magically mixed among  any other coins in the room.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wizards & Rogues of the Realms, Miser's Bane

Wizards and Rogues of the Realms is not what I thought it was  going to be when I first saw it way back when. I was under the  assumption that it was going to be along the line of a Rogues  Gallery type of item. I remember thinking to myself why they  would have broken out just two classes for the book. I made the assumption that it was just to sell more books.

The book is just what most of the other "splat" books are. The  book outlines different kits for Wizards and Rogues in the  Forgotten Realms. The majority of the book (maybe two thirds or  more) is dedicated to wizards. Each portion takes a look at the  class as they would exist in nations inside the Realms.

There are also two new classes described. For wizards it is the  Spellsinger and for rogues it is the Shadow Walker. I will need  to be honest and say that I can't see me allowing either of these  into any campaign I would run. The Spellsinger is so open to  abuse that they address that inside the description of the class.  The Shadow Walker is does not suffer from being over powered it  is just a modified MU/Thief that does not need to split  experience. It loses some of the thief abilities and has a lower  spell count. I am not sure the other abilities make it a fair  trade.

The space spent on the new classes is small though. The vast  majority of the book is going over the new class kits available  for each of the nations in Faerun. There are some nice variations  on the classes mixed in among the huge number of variants. I  think that even though I would never use it as I would not find a  reason to use the setting there are some things that can be  extracted for external use.


Published: 1995
Pages: 128

From the back of the book...

From Waterdeep to Thay, from the great Galcier to Calimshan,  wizards and rogues dress, think, and behave in ways that tell the  learned observer just where they hail from. Sometimes the  differences are obvious - anyone can distinguish a seafaring mage  from a turban-crowned spellcaster, or a thief of Lantan from a  burglar of Amn. But often, appearance gives no clue: even wizards  and rogues of the Dalelands vary from Dale to Dale, though one  may look the same as another.Faerunians are fiercely proud of  their heritage, and they carry their native traits with them  wherever they go.

Within these pages are dozens of kits designed to help players in  a Forgotten Realms campaign discover their characters' roots and  reflect them in role-playing. Special benefits and disadvantages  related to each particular home town or territory allow players  to create unique kits that can be applied to mages, specialist  wizards, and rogues, and they can even be layered over other  kits. As a bonus, two new player character subclasses have been  included: the intriguing spellsinger and the stealthy shadow walker.



Spell:

Miser's Bane


Level: Fourth
Range: 12"
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: One Target
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

This spell allows the magic user to inflict damage onto those who  have the misfortune of carrying around more wealth than they  should. The spell allows the victim an option to avoid some of  the damage though at a cost.

When this spell is cast the magic user will compare the amount of  coins that they have on their person versus that of what the  target of the spell is carrying. For each type of coin that the  target has in excess of the caster they will suffer a varying  amount of damage. The dice used for each type of coin is below:

Copper  - 1d4
Silver  - 1d6
Electrum  - 1d8
Gold  - 1d10
Platinum  - 1d12

In addition to the dice the caster will also cause 1 point per level they posses. The victim is not entitled to a saving through  unless the caster elects to allow it. The caster can in advance elect to allow the victim a save. If this is done and the save is  made then any wealth in excess is immediately teleported to the  casters person and the victim takes half the damage they would  have. If the save fails then they take full damage. The caster  must declare the option before rolling the damage.

The material component of this spell is one coin of each type  that the caster will use to compare wealth against. If the caster  does not have a coin of the appropriate type it is not used.  These coins are destroyed with the casting of the spell and do  not count against the totals when being compared.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

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