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Encyclopaedia Formulae Arcana - A
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Portal G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2019 13:46:37

Another 5-star spellbook release by R P Davis! Just like my reviews for some of his other excellent spellbook PDFs, this one exhibits the same care in presenting balanced game mechanics and the ability to feel lush tabletop immersion in matching the spell's title with the spell's results.

The best part of this book, will be the trip down memory lane to revisit (with some 5e rules reinterpretation) all your favorite, forgotten and weirdly exotic spells from 1e, 2e, and 3e official TSR and WotC rulebooks. Plus, some of these rare official spells were issued only on WotC's web site (remember Acorn of Far Travel). So cool! My favorite spells are the "named" spells - the ones with prefixed names of the wizard who created the spell or the deity who granted said spell to his clergy. Check out the fun names of some of these hard-to-find TSR/WotC spells - Abendroth's Magical Accountant, Algarth's Embattlement, Argaster's Cloak of Shadows & Abbathor's Greed.

I'm soooooo stoked waiting for the release of the subsequent parts of this line's entire alphabet series. So hurry up, R P!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Encyclopaedia Formulae Arcana - A
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Guildbook of the Watchful Order
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Portal G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2019 13:03:38

R P Davis is one of the preeminent 5e spell designers in the DM's Guild author community. This Guildbook is living proof of that. It's a 14 page book combines the best of crunch (game-mechanic design) and fluff (entertaining/informative prose & strong storyline narrative) for a Waterdeep book that holds equally tremendous value to players and DMs.

So far, my group and I were able to play with 5 of the dozen or so new spells provided. They all passed with flying colors in regards to balance, clarity of use. and ease of immersion into Waterdhavian magic culture. R P clearly did his homework on researching the popular Waterdeep hardback books of prior editions. As his ability to port them over into 5e parlance was done seamlessly and elegantly.

Newly ported content such as Waterdeep magic portal details, a feat, and an arcane tradition are also presented and of equally high design value. Adding "name spells" (ex. - Trobriand's Teleport) was a great idea as it more strongly connects the F.R. lore to the attached game mechanics. I truly love the archaic font and art use within the PDF. Gorgeous stuff ... and definitely helps add to the immersion and verisimilitude of Waterdeep culture.

I give this book a 5 Star Rating ... and my Seal of Approval! My only criticism at this time, is that I wish there were 30 more pages of R P's spells!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Guildbook of the Watchful Order
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Eastbrook Bundle
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Portal G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2018 19:27:21

R P Davis' Eastbrook Bundle ... gives you a ton of of high-quality, high-bang-for-the-buck supplements for the 5E Forgotten Realms. For under $6, I got 3 excellent adventures, a DM's "tips & hints" book, and what amounts to a "Volo's Guide to Eastbrook" - Davis' linchpin village in Sembia that ties into the included adventures.

Editing, formatting & the 2-column layout are all excellent on both a formal and rules-language level. This author definitely is a pro at putting D&D supplements together. All his PDF documents are easy on the eyes and a joy to navigate (his appendices, end-of-document statblock and what-not have ideal placement).

As a DM who's been running a years-long campaign located in the Dalelands, the geographical origins of these 3 adventures all make for a seamless transition to my Forgotten Realms. As a bonus, it looks like these adventures can be quite easily ported over to another part of Faerûn or even another campaign world.

Typically, I tend to cannibalize modules and setting supplements for their applicable components for my group's campaign world and gaming needs. I have to say though, just reading R P Davis' prose and his modules' setting and context verbiage ... is a delight and entertaining in and of itself. He's an excellent writer and really understands the importance of a DM's delivery in building verisimilitude for the players.

While I haven't had an opportunity to run these 3 modules for my group yet, I can see that the crunch component of their challenges and combats look to be well-balanced, diverse & full of nailbiting dramatic moments. I can't wait to send my players through this series!

All in all, I definitely consider this to be a worthwhile purchase and a great addition to the DM’s arsenal. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eastbrook Bundle
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for your kind words! If you have any questions about running the adventures or Eastbrook itself, I'm on Twitter @WP2XX, Facebook as RPDavisGameWriter, and my website is r-p-davis.com =)
101 Spells for the Common Man
Publisher: Zenith Games
by B C C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/25/2017 10:54:28

While I'd like to write-up a full-bodied review of 101 Spells for the Common Man ... this short one will have to do for now.

This is a 5-Star PDF, folks. As a huge fan of Pathfinder & 3.5 (Paizo, WotC & all reputable 3PPs) spellbook tomes, this is one of the most creative & mechanically-sound 3PP spellbooks I've seen over the years. Ranking right up there with Dave Paul's recent terrain-centric spellbook series over at Rite Publishing.

My players have been diving into this PDF with glee. We currently have a little over 20 of these spells that have already been cast (or written to character spellbooks) at our gaming tables over the last 2 weeks. As a DM, I love how info-packed yet streamlined/concise design of many of the spells. Clever, thoughtful titles, too. Props to Jeff Gomez for bringing all of these talented game designers together into a PDF that's easy to navigate and a lot of fun to read. For you demiurgic types, many of these spells can be subtly optimized for innovative application, too.

Gosh, I wish I had time to list my Top 10 Favorites. But I will definitely say that Pleasing Facade brought me a whiplash smile and totally stroked my inner gothic sensibilities. I've never seen anyone capture The Picture of Dorian Gray in an RPG game mechnanic as elegantly this spell. Bravo!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Spells for the Common Man
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Bite Me! Wererats
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/02/2016 13:26:13

This 19 page supplement for players and GMs who are interested in running-&-playing Wererat PCs and NPCs ... is pretty much the cream of the crop reference source for said gameplay ambitions. That includes Paizo as well as PF 3PP sources.

As with the other Bite Me! supplements in the Misfit Studios line, the balance between new crunch and evocative fluff is about ideal for a supplement of its size and price range. The Table of Contents in conjunction with the book's formatting, coloration, design layout and art made for an nice,easy read on the eyes and quickly-navigable referencing.

The initial few pages of the book give a helpful recap of the Pathfinder game mechanics of the Wererat race for PC referencing ... as well as a handy ARG point breakdown for the race. The new ART's & FCO's were numerous and ran the quality spectrum from 'Above Average' to 'Excellent'. Lots of Wererat theme characters can be accentuated with these 2 character options alone. Plus, they all made conceptual sense and none of them looked unbalanced.

Amongst the 3 Racial Archetypes, I found all 3 to be fairly well balanced. The Sewer Druid to be a bit super-specialized ... the Lightning Rager to moderately interesting in its DEX-emphasizing rage mechanic ... and the Bully Slayer to be just outright awesome with its clever thematic bonuses that lend itselfs well to Wererat social behavior.

The new Wererat equipment emphasizes sewer-environment combat - and are all quite cool. The new feats were all themed towards stealth, dexterity, senses and size diminution. I would've liked to have seen a slight uptick in power level for most of the feats, but I liked the overall thematic cohesiveness of the bunch. The Magic Items were probably my favorite component of the book! All 5 of them will find happy homes in my urban campaign that I GM. I agree with N. Jolly in his review though, that the 'Hiding' WSA needs a +X boost ... perhaps to around +3 IMHO.

The Wererat Magic section is terrific! I love the Gnaw Anything, Close Quarters, Swarm Growth and Crowd Stride spell. Which are strong thematically with Wererat casters ... and have rock solid spell balancing mechanics. I might tweak them a little to allow those of the Wererat race to gain a slight-to-small additional benefit from them over those of other-racial spellcasters.

The 2 fleshed-out, multiple-level-perspective NPCs were creatively-written ... and their stat-blocks look clean and accurate. I'm definitely going to nab that Druid for use in my campaign world.

All in all, this book will get serious table-play with my one Pathfinder group that is currently involved in a long-term urban campaign. Besides their proclivity to prosper in urban settings, Wererats are probably the most adaptable of all the lycanthropes in regards to living in all types of environmentally harsh areas. So don't think of this book as being purely urban-centric.

My final rating for this book is a rock-solid 4 stars. It presents a sizeable amount of game mechanic options for Wererats that aren't in Paizo products but are definitely needed ... and options that make a lot of sociocultural-thematic sense too. I would've considered a higher rating if there were a few more knock-my-sock-off creative options.

To note, I now own 8 PDFs in the Misfit Studios 'Bite Me!' line for Pathfinder. This book and one other were comped to me in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. The other 6 I purchased on my own. I was originally drawn to the Bite Me! line because I knew the illustrious Christina Stiles was heading the project. So far, all 8 of these books have impressed me and are now in heavy rotation in both my PF groups as either the primary ruleset for lycanthrope PC's/NPC's ... or in a hybridized system with core-Paizo rules. I also just now looked at the authors of this specific book (Hudson & Welham). And now it all makes sense. Lol. I'm a huge fan of Mike Welham Pathfinder good ... and once again, he doesn't disappoint.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Wererats
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Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Craig C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/30/2015 15:26:20

As a preface, 1 of my 2 Pathfinder groups has a preferential "thing" for adventuring & roleplaying in tavern, pub & inn backdrops. As a result, we've played in a lot of these environments - both in homebrew and purchased thematic modules. As 1 of the 2 GM's of this group, we've both converted a lot of 2E and 3.5 taven/pub/inn adventures into Pathfinder versions. And we also use lots and lots of 3PP goodies to boot. So we all have a lot of experience in evaluating the merits of a given taven/pub/inn adventure.

As for our final review of Tuffy's Good Time Palace ... we really enjoyed our gaming experience with this tavern! To break from tradition, I'm going to give my rating for it up top of this review - and explain why at the bottom. Our final rating (that was unanimously agreed upon by the entire group) is 4 Stars! **** From a price context perspective, I thought the 17 or so pages of actual gaming content is a good value for the price of the PDF. Especially considering the decent quality of the writing - both flavor prose and crunch mechanics.

The product is written in a setting-neutral environment. So it was very easy for me to port it over into my Forgotten Realms campaign setting (using PF rules). In fact, the tavern's setup and content descriptions don't really go outside the walls the walls (with the possible minor exception of mentioning Alistair's "home"). Which was a big plus for me in regards to plug-&-play. The PDF formatting & design contentis well done and printer-friendly (except for the cover & end page). The 20 or so stat-blocks are easy to read and accurate (I randomly checked 7 of them). All in all, it's a well "put together" gaming supplement. Although I realize that's a subjective evaluation that will vary from eyeball to eyeball.

As for the flavor and vibe of the tavern ... this is really where it shined. The interconnectivity of the tavern's owner (Tuffy), her various employees (dancers & bouncer), the sizable street gang contingent (the Crimson Cloaks) and the powerfully manipulative "healer/herbalist" (the most detailed NPC in the PDF) are clearly networked and defined. Although I would've loved to have seen even more detail on how each NPC felt about each of the others. Besides those 4 primary entities listed above, there's also an all-woman merc group provided - the Stunning Blades. The write-ups and stat blocks are all awesome - I especially love how diverse they are and everybody has a different primary class. Unfortunately, there's very little describing how they interact with the 4 other primary entities of this tavern. That's the biggest reason why I had to knock 1 star off the final rating of Tuffy's.

My player's and I got to run a full 5 hour gaming session using just this PDF ... with considerable interaction of all the main NPCs. The fact that my player's didn't get bored or move onto other non-related encounters indicated that we certainly got great return for investing time in this product. We had a lot of fun! Especially with Tuffy herself and the healer/herbalist (who I knocked down in levels a bit - his initially-assigned level assignment was a bit high in the event he had to enter combat).

Props to Dire Rugrat for writing some creative characters with intriguing and easily-playable personalities (for the GM, that is). The setting description for Tuffy's environment and menu fare were quite evocative. Player's love hearing that kind of stuff to help them differentiate one tavern from the next (seeing as how most PCs get bored of them pretty quick). I would suggest that Dire Rugrat add custom menus as handouts for the players. Besides the typical fare, add some provincial and local-yokel food & drink oddities with fun, colloquial names assigned to them.

In summation, Tuffy's Good Time Palace is now permanently ensconced in Dagger Falls, Daggerdale ... within my homebrew Forgotten Realms campaign. My players have made some interesting contacts - and enemies - in a venue that will continue to feature prominently in their future adventuring endeavours.

(Please note: I received a copy of this PDF from Dire Rugrat in return for an honest written review)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (PFRPG)
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Dance Macabre
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Craig C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/18/2015 03:44:04

As I promised in the Product Discussion section ... here is my official review of Dance Macabre. I'll start off by saying that my Pathfinder group (the 5 PCs that I took through this adventure) collectively and unanimously gave this module a rating of 5 Stars. As the GM, I concurred - and also granted it a 5 Star rating. To put it succinctly, we had a whoooooole lotta cerebral fun in the 4 gaming sessions we took to complete all the objectives. So much fun in fact, that my players demanded to stay in the outré & peculiar town of Twisted Bridge at the end ... and to use the town as the base HQ for their next adventure. As a GM, I have nothing but glowing commentary for the way this adventure was written, designed, formatted and structured. For any budding PF-3PP adventure authors out there, please note the inventive template that Richard Develyn used to make Dance Macabre. The entirety of the GM info-points were extremely easy to access - it was like being in a well-designed cockpit. When stat-blocks, maps, PC handouts and clue flowcharts are so ingeniously placed in a PDF like this, it can't help but make the GMs job 10 times easier. Which allows for GMs to manage time and resources 10 times better ... and to feel more attuned to enhancing the roleplay experience of this adventures bizarre and intriguing set of NPCs.

The Balance Level of Dance Macabre was just about ideal. I usually judge a module's game mechanic balance on how much I have to tweak adversary builds and CR levels to accommodate the optimized battle prowess of my PCs. Which in my case, very little tweaking was needed. Another aspect of solid design balance was the plethora of RPG challenges. My players vocally noted that they needed a very wide-array of skills, gear and class features to feel fully engaged in the module due to the even distribution of social interactions, puzzles/mysteries and fights.

In essence, Dance Macabre is a wonderfully weird combination of Gothic Exotica and Terry Gilliam-style Magic Realism.

Of the last 14 short modules our PF group has gone through in the past years, we rated this one anywhere from #4 all the way up to #2 in our list of favorites. That's heady praise from my group - as they are quite critical of adventures of this archetype. Panataxia and Horn of Geryon (2 more adventures in the 4 Dollar Dungeon stable) were also picked up ... and a quick read of them also shows similar synergetic attunement to my GMing style. I really can't wait to run these 2 adventures!

Finally, a quick shout-out and kudos to Endzeitgeist for spotlighting this outstanding new PF publisher.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dance Macabre
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Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Craig C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/30/2015 20:11:17

My one gaming group has always had an uncomfortable issue with the way lycanthropes have been portrayed (both fluff & crunch-wise) in 3.5 and PF. The dissatisfaction with PF's Blood of the Moon Player Companion further cemented that dislike. So my suggestion to try and playtest the Bite Me! series was met with some trepidation. I was able to gently persuade two of my players (both of whom are excellent judges of balanced game mechanics) to try lycanthrope PCs. One player chose an Afflicted Wereviper, the other chose to play a Natural Weregorilla. I also introduced a "runt of the litter" Werecrow Wizard into the campaign as an NPC.

Using just the Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes PDF for the majority of our lycanthrope gameplay needs (Core Rules were still used for baseline needs), we've had a lot of fun reintroducing ourselves to lycanthrope-immersion in PF. There's a tremendous amount of both PC and GM advice (especially in the PDF preface) on getting lycanthropes properly integrated and played in a given campaign setting. This was useful to help scrub my players negative predispositions and start fresh. For me as a GM, it's an extremely valuable resource due to its detailed depth, meta-psychology and pragmatically helpful tone (I'm not fond of harsh preachiness in advice pieces).

It's interesting to see how much my 2 were-PCs use this PDF as a frequent go-to reference for advice on RP and campaign integration (especially since both players have around 18 years combined RPG experience). That's a sign of a useful game supplement. It's refreshing to see some of player's actually enjoy "properly" playing traditional were-creatures.

As for the crunch part of the PDF, it's mechanically solid and thoroughly covers the primary bases of playing either an Afflicted or Natural were-creature. We found that just about any kind of feat, archetype. magic item or gear piece that a were-PC would want - is in this book. I would love to see an expansion of the spells ... and even more options for non-martial lycanthropes (i.e. primary spellcasters), personally - but perhaps the other Bite Me! supplements will cover that territory.

While writing this review, I found myself pretty-much echoing Endzeitgeist's remarks way too often. Lol. Albeit in a less-refined fashion. So I do reference you to his more comprehensive review for the drilldown on the book's minutaie ... as I'm pretty much in lockstep with 95% of what he wrote about this terrific book. Finally, since this review is really an amalgam of 3 people's opinions (mine and my 2 were-PCs), please note that our final rating of 4.5 stars is allocated thusly .... GM (Me) = 4.5, Afflicted Wereviper = 4.0, Natural Weregorilla = 5.0.

In closing, we're happy to include Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes into our PF Campaign's allowable library of quality 3PP supplements. And that's saying something. I highly recommend it and I look forward to checking out the rest of the Bite Me! line as well (I bought the WereMantis book - but haven't playtested it enough yet to comment on it).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes
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Monstrous Menagerie Vol. I
Publisher: ARMR Studios
by Craig C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2015 21:38:48

Nice little job by ARMR Studios on this small little bestiary. The monsters were extremely detailed and quite well executed. And for the price (free), you can't beat it. I'm looking forward to seeing what they put out next!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Menagerie Vol. I
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GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Craig C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2015 10:42:23

GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops is my first compilation book (along with the Wilderness and Urban Dressing books) that I've purchased from Raging Swan Press as I've bought a few of their smaller, individual PDFs in the past. Needless to say, I've been absolutely immersed in reading the boatload of detailed minutae that this amazing book has to offer. It's hard to break away from reading it! But I must, for I've finally found the penultimate tools to help flesh out my tiny villages that will soon populate the outskirts of Dagger Falls in my Forgotten Realms campaign (using Pathfinder rules).

The sheer quantity & quality of orderly, eyeball-ergonomic idea lists and design guides are a GM's dream. Not only because I was able to expediently execute a lushly-immersive and aesthetically-detailed village profile within mere minutes ... but also because the contents and people of the village I was able to create had vibrancy and a real pulse.

I was expecting to find about a handful of the 12 included villages that would really capture my eye. Instead, all 12 had some form of imagery and content that really grabbed me. And about 1/2 of them I fell in love with (especially White Moon Cove and Apia). I can't gush poetic enough at how fantastic this GM resource is for me. And I've seen it all in my 2 decades of GMing and playing D&D and Pathfinder.

After getting a good feel for all 3 of the big Raging Swan Press compilation books I just bought ... I'm certainly going to be making a larger investment in some of their other compilation books (Tribes, Dungeon Dressing, All That Glimmers). This company has some truly extraordinary GM tools and their formulaic (I say that as a compliment) design layout makes both deep reading and quick-scans-for-emergency-ideas easy, consistent and fun. That part is crucial to me. Because "idea tables" can be done wrong in a way that compels a GM to not use a gievn set of tables again. Raging Swan's m.o. is the exact opposite of that. I use the words "eyeball-ergonomic" up above ... and that's as accurate a description and compliment as I can find to give their design layouts. Great stuff. I'm so happy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops
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