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Exalted: Tales From the Age of Sorrows
by Ellen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/24/2022 11:45:32

For $3 I don't regret buying this book, but overall it needed much, much better editing and creative control. Typos abound. Multiple authors forgot some character’s name and changed it randomly mid-story. Many stories are drastically out of step with the Exalted setting, which is not what I want from tie-in fiction. Almost every story has multiple errors, which always jar me out of the fiction. 1/5 for the editing. However I did enjoy some of them.

Credits: Richard Dansky actually wrote the Trilogy of the Second Age. There's no Trilogy of the Third Age.

Maiden’s Kiss (4/5) - A good story, a look at mortals interacting with magical beings who can casually turn their lives around. But the gold coins are weird and out of place in Creation.

Bronze and Bisque (4.25/5) - A mostly good, believable Solar story focused on character development, with a side of action. Not amazing, but has very few typos and no setting errors. The Solars are unusually knowledgeable about their Exaltation, though.

The Circle Will Be Broken (3.5/5) - A decent, non-faction Sidereal story and entirely plausible within the setting IMO – including the bizarre black flag and the expense reports. I would rate it higher, but I had a hard time following the witty reparte dialogue because these characters all have quite similar names and no descriptions.

Death of a Solar (3/5) - Has lots of little departures from the setting that added up to breaking me out of the story. The Wyld Hunt describe a known Solar as a criminal who broke a law instead of a soul-eating demon (but we never learn what law). The word Anathema is never uttered. It takes place in an anachronistic coal-mining town. The Solar goes years without spending a single mote of Essence, not even reflexively or by accident, even though anyone who could be willing to live like that could never Exalt in the first place; this is a theme of the setting. Despite serious flaws, the underlying plot is a good concept.

Exalted Among Us (3.75/5) - It’s not so bad but somehow rubbed me the wrong way. Personally I prefer sympathetic protagonists. The author makes Zoatham a small town right next to Chiaroscuro. In 3E canon Zoatham is a major city 1779 miles away across a burning desert bigger than the Sahara. Ships are mentioned where there should be caravans or at least sandships. Rice is apparently common in the desert? Characters strangely credit Exaltation to the gods and stars instead of the Dragons.

Secrets in My Waters Still (5/5) - An odd tale, it feels very original to me. You could call it a ghost story, but with quite a twist. I’m not quite sure what the protagonist is, but it's believable and doesn’t feel out of place in the setting like most of the other short stories. This tale also has fewer typos than most.

What You Do Not Understand (4/5) - A good, interesting story except for the typos. It's an unusual use of second person narration, but it works well. It depicts encounters with the Exalted from a mortal perspective, introducing readers to Shalrina, the Chosen of Masks. She’s one of the Exigents, a new kind of Exalted introduced in 3E.

When the Moon is Dark (2/5) - I was warned not to read this story in which a Dragon-Blood nonsensically becomes a Solar and falls in love with the Lunar she was Wyld Hunting. She never suspects what happened despite ample evidence, perhaps because it’s canonically impossible. These two types of Exalted are designed and written for quite different mythic archetypes. That isn’t the only problem – caste marks are on chests instead of heads and the Wyld Hunters never once recogize them, but for no reason believe Lunars are Exalted. The DB Dynast protagonist has implausibly little training and experience (like, none). Weirdly helpless DBs are as easily captured as mortals. Lunars lose their powers on the new moon. On the other hand, the quality of the writing itself is actually very good, so I can’t give it just one star. If this wasn’t supposed to be about Exalted, it could have been genuinely good.

For Love of Heaven (3/5) - In some ways this is a good story, describing a complex sorcerous working in rather interesting detail ... but what is even going on? Is Fidelis a Lunar? He’s several hundred years old and his entire life is obsessed with finding his Solar ?Mate? (which would paint Lunars as mopey sidekicks instead of independent heroes). He’s clearly an advanced sorcerer but he has no Charms, can’t shapeshift, and can’t even use his sorcery when in danger. So he’s actually mortal? Also, several terms used incorrectly kept jarring me out of the story.

The Herald of Glorious Death (2.5/5) - Warning: mutilation & lots of gore. A quite thematic Abyssal story about why the Exalted can’t just solve every problem with violence. If not for the excessive gory details it could have been good, merely not to my taste. But the author also decided to misuse nonbinary gender identity as a shorthand for eeeeeevul perversion – derogatory and completely unnecessarily since the plot already revolves around human sacrifice and cruelty. Abyssals are also shapeshifters like Lunars, I don’t know why. If you don’t like Abyssals or splatter horror, it’s not worth reading.

A Resting Place at the Heart of the Mountain (2/5) - Very inconsistent with the setting, and the plot makes no sense. The mortal Regent Fokuf nonsensically becomes “Emperor” and sends an incompetent mortal Dynast “Cathak Creos of House Iselsi” on a mission that required an experienced Exalt. Anyone who knows Exalted knows nobody belongs to two Great Houses and nobody would admit to being an Iselsi. Cathak Creos is also named Rhey, switching names about every 2nd paragraph. Maybe he’s also an Outcaste raised by peasants because he doesn’t know the basic rules of courtly manners all Dynasts are trained in. “The Hundred Kingdoms seethe with revolt” against an empire that never ruled them in canon. I could go on.

The Kingdom of Honey (4.5/5) - This is very well-written with evocative language, fewer typos than most, and quite an interesting plot and character. It would be 5/5 if it didn’t break the rules of Solar Exaltation. The protagonist would make more sense as a Sidereal or god-blood daughter of the Bee Empress. I would like to see a sequel; perhaps that would provide an explanation for the protagonist’s unusual destiny at birth to become a Solar?

A Singular Justice (0/5) - I was warned away but read a few paragraphs out of morbid curiosity. The author has less understanding of the setting than one could learn from TV Tropes. This “First Age” story is actually set in some D&D world, where dozens? hundreds?? of “Solar Exalted” Journeyman D&D wizards all attend not!Hogwarts. This may be more Twilight Solars than actually existed even in the First Age. Despite the god-king students (who should be extremely wealthy), the school is explicitly broke. “Adventurers” come and go just like in D&D. Someone beats up Cathak Creos, who is already a character in another short story (see above). House Cathak didn’t even exist in the First Age. But the Empress is mentioned later so it might be the Second Age, when the Solars definitely don’t exist in such enormous numbers, let alone all in one place living openly as Solars! If it's the Second Age why are there so many books of sorcery and why haven't several dozen Wyld Hunts and Imperial Legions attacked this Anathema school?? The author even misunderstands caste marks.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted: Tales From the Age of Sorrows
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M20 Sorcerer
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2022 14:15:18

This book is mostly fine but i do have a couple problems: -There's no Avatar/Mana background that gives quintessence despite there being a Quintessence Wheel in the character sheet. And there's an Arete tracker there for some reason? -The explanation for Quintessence Manipulation, which i suppose is the main way to get new Quintessence in this system, is very poorly explained. Am i to assume that you need at least Level 3 just so you can start getting Quintessence? Or can you do it with a Level 1 Ritual? The way rituals work is also poorly explained. -This is more of a personal preference other than anything else, but i would rather that this book had followed the Chronicles of Darkness book, Second Sight, instead of Sorcerer Revised, because i feel that book is closer to the way that real-life mystic practices are done than this system. Some paths are just too flashy for my taste. But that as i said, is just my personal preference rather than a flaw of this book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
M20 Sorcerer
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Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2
by Natasha L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2022 19:18:42

Well I love to roleplay in different era. Especialy pre 1900s so great for me. Great inspiration for those who like to write stories.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2
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Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition
by Bryan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2022 12:06:19

I write this review as one coming from the old White Wolf: World of Darkness games and books, so some of this review touches on differences between this and Werewolf the Apocalypse.

I won't go into exhausting detail but these are my general observations regarding this book. First, I must state that I HIGHLY recommend picking up the Chronicles of Darkness (also known as the revised New World of Darkness) rulebook and becoming at least functionally familiar with the basic rules of the game from that book as this book claims to be a complete, stand-alone game, but it falls short of that goal. This book is built on the framework of the Chronicles of Darkness rules, but do to bad editing, it frequently leaves out bits and pieces of the core rules (such as fire damage, gaining willpower for each night of rest, etc.) This book is meant to be a template of sorts applied to the core rules of Chronicles of Darkness to facilitate playing a werewolf, and it does that, but in a somewhat sloppy manner.

That said, a short list of observations:

1) It is a fresh take on the Werewolf setting, and a flavorful one. It changes the scope of the narrative from being an apocalyptic, furry war machine in its predecessor to focusing on being a pack creature and an apex predator, a born hunter. You guard the world against intruding spirits and other monstrosities, but the focus of your personal story as a character is on your pack and maintaining the delicate balance between your wolf nature and your human nature (and all the supernatural implications of that in the book's world). This, to me, is a refreshing change, and has more narrative drama baked into it.

2) The werewolf specific rules, gifts, rites, auspices, merits, forms, and various other supernatural abilities all work well together to reinforce the pack hunter themes, world building, and baggage that comes with being a dual-natured monster always trying to keep itself on a leash lest it lose control and go on a rampage (also known as Kuruth or the Death Rage). They aren't always balanced, and can be a bit clunky (tracking and perception interacting in unclear ways because the perception pool is not even mentioned outside of the character sheet) and even nonsensical at times (looking at YOU high-stress or low-Harmony mandatory shapeshifting) in my opinion, but they get the themes across, and ultimately that's what matters in an RPG. Just be prepared to house-rule, hand-wave, or refer to the Chronicles of Darkness book for more clarity where this book falls short. Some of the replacement rules like blood and bone instead of virtues and vices (in CoD) are a bit redundant, but they reinforce the themes, so I give them a pass.

3) The wold building is lovely, if a bit shallow in some places (mostly where they could have added more details or examples), and does a sufficient job of getting you into the gist of where and how the werewolves fit into the story and cosmology of the setting. I particularly like the new antagonists (hosts, spirit-ridden, the idigam). What are the idigam? Think conceptual being meets Lovecraftian horror, and you're well on your way to playing with these abominations, and the sample write-ups for them are great (if a tad redundant a couple of times). I could do with more samples of the other critters, but between this book and the core Chronicles of Darkness rulebook, there's plenty of monsters to start you and, importantly, rules for making monsters to keep players and GMs busy.

4) The core rules founded on the Chronicles of Darkness work fine and are generally a good step towards simplifying the mechanics compared to their predecessors, though they can get lost in fiddly details and modifiers at times, and aren't always well explained (I blame the shoddy editing as I mentioned in my preface). They really could have used more gameplay examples (there hardly are any), and far tighter editing and review for consistency and completeness. That said, fixed target numbers, graded success and failure results, and modifiers adjusting dice pools do a pretty good job of making the system flow well.

5) I tend to think it favors gunplay over melee in offensive combat because of how defenses work (guns ignore defense ratings, melee doesn't), but that has to be qualified with the fact that werewolves are damn hard to kill (unless you've got silver) and get to use their defense rating against firearms in many of their body forms (where many other creatures simply don't). It just seems that their teeth and claws serve them less than simply firing a shotgun in many situations, but as they are meant to hunt spirits much of the time and their bite (though not their claws, oddly) hurts supernatural things without assistance, it's not completely imbalanced. It's just a bit...odd feeling for a game about being a furry man-beast of death.

6) On the point of forms, like its predecessor I love that each form has its uses (even more so in this edition which is a plus) and that the gauru form (big wolf-man vis a vi The Howling) is a short-term killing form that's prone to going into rage if held too long or provoked. Think furry Incredible Hulk. You don't want to make them angry, you (and they) wouldn't like them when they're angry. Mechanically, I feel as if it's a tad weak offensively for its purpose (again melee just seems a bit hamstrung), but it is damn near indestructible, soooo...and the other forms are fun, so it pretty much works (I favor urshul - dire wolf myself).

7) Overall, it's a fine thing for $20, but I can't stress enough to pick up Chronicles of Darkness first to familiarize yourself with the core rules and THEN see how this game tweaks them for the werewolves. You'll save yourself some headaches and page flipping. The editing and rule writing is simply BAD and/or lacking in some places. It's not the worst I've seen by a country mile, but the incompleteness of parts, the sparse examples, the odd inconsistencies and grey areas where rules (such as success levels for specific tasks as opposed to success levels for general tasks) overlap, etc. make it a game where, if you're like me, you'll find yourself house-ruling or simply ignoring parts of it entirely. When the general function of the dice pool rolling can get so much basic work done, some of the subsystems are superfluous or needlessly convoluted (e.g. why does tracking have its own dice pools when you already have a perception rating modified by your werewolf form that can do the job?). It's supposed to be a narrative, flexible system, but it seems like they get lost in their own woods more often than they should (ironic), overcomplicating the simple with needless details (pointless dice pools for things already handled by other pools) or sloppy inconsistencies and missing rules (fire...really?). It's very much a game where I think the spirit of the rules will serve you more than the letter of the rules. Fitting, perhaps, for a bunch of spirit hunting werewolves.

I could go on and on about my love and hate of aspects of this book, but this is long enough already.

That said, if you're willing to buy another book to get a basic feel for how the systems work and then apply the parts of this book that make werewolves tick, it’s generally a fine and serviceable game with fun world-building and delicious themes. Just expect to tweak it some because its incomplete and sometimes needlessly convoluted. Do as the werewolves do, and follow the spirit. ; )



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition
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Night Horrors: Enemy Action
by Tom L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2022 20:38:23

Honestly, it's quite dull. The various characters, the hooks, everything just felt bland. I've come to expect so much from the Night Horrors line of books, but this one just fell flat.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Night Horrors: Enemy Action
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Mummy: The Curse Second Edition VTT Tokens
by Corbin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2022 09:32:37

Comes with 10 virtual tabletop tokens based on artwork in the MTC 2e book, including transparent pngs for use with Roll20 or other VTT. Problem I have is that for $1 you only get 10, whereas with the Contagion Chronicle VTT tokens you get 48.

Its only $1 USD, but considering how there is more artwork in MTC 2e that could have been used to pad out the number of tokens I'd not recommend it in its current state. If you don't mind tossing $1 at 10 tokens instead of the 48 tokens with the Contagion Chronicle VTT tokens from the same company maybe it is for you.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mummy: The Curse Second Edition VTT Tokens
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Relics & Rituals: Olympus
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 14:47:36

I own this in both original Hardback, and PDF. The reason for 4/5 stars is two-fold: First the flaws- This is the most limited book in the Sword & Sorcery library (not very compatable with the core Scarred Lands books as far as having a place in the world), and it is the least imaginative (because it completely pulls it contents from a single source, although it is for a good reason)... Second the goodness- While not very imaginative it is EXACTLY what you didn't know you needed... Greek mythology presented for the RPG fan! It slightly reminds me of the AD&D2E historical green-cover books... so it isn't my favorite, unfortunately they didn't have a Norse or Egyptian mythology book... looks like Assassin's Creed got something right! But Greek mythology is very inspiring and dark at times!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Relics & Rituals: Olympus
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Blood Sea: The Crimson Abyss
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 14:25:29

Honestly, this book and many like it hit FAR HARDER than Pathfinder... The history and lore of the Scarred Lands is everpresent and litterally bleeding to affect the world currently. All events and great figures of the past are manipulating events and environments actively, constantly, even when they aren't the primary focus of a Scarred Lands campaign, these books show (through telling?) how to build a living, breathing world full of danger and wonder! This is an excellent starting place, as the reach of the sea is vast, it will affect all communities tied to it... there is no escape from the fact that history leaves its scars!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Sea: The Crimson Abyss
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Secrets & Societies
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 14:13:18

Remember how cool the Druid was in Diablo II? Well now you can... lol, there is a feat to remain in-control as a lycanthrope! Buy this book! 13 varied organizations, a great read. Many of the organizations can nearly be placed into any other fantasy campaign world to great effect, and are perfect for settings with hard edges such as Midnight, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and Dragon Age! The Scarred Lands is not a cake-walk joyride, it is brutal, honest and grim, with enough hope to lighten the mood!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets & Societies
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Player's Guide to Rangers and Rogues
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 13:56:44

Well this work may seem obvious to a lot of experienced GMs and players, and new GMs might be a little taken aback by the sheer volume of information they are "expected" to learn, understand, create, and know; this is a nice starting place for new GMs, as it neatly introduces many elements of urban adventure, the Rogue is fairly friendly for new GMs. The Ranger section is more of an advanced section as it has more magical implications, yet both meld really well together. This is highly recommended for younger GMs looking at first creating urban adventures based off of fantasic versions of the places they live, and with a few sessions under the belt, seeking the wilderness will be less of a hassle. I highly recommend keeping simple index cards handily available for NPCs, environmental effects, and location contents! This is a decent addition to the world of roleplaying games and I wish I had it when I started.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Guide to Rangers and Rogues
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The Penumbral Pentagon
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 13:31:41

Strong writing, rich lore, and a captivating layout (yes, in black and white, grow up) create an evocative feeling of old school grit and a pick-up-and-use format that can easily be parced and pieced for your own games. Areas make sense and are well-written, with wonderfully designed characters and imaginative effects, even if you only take from this adventure to make your own, this is a solid purchase that works as an enjoyable read... you might want to play as the GM for once!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Penumbral Pentagon
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Creature Collection II: Dark Menagerie
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 13:19:03

Fun and imaginative, yes "it's only black and white", but it is as metal as third edition ever got! The creatures are very 5E unfriendly, because they are brutal, getting the PDFs mean that you can screen capture from your PDF viewer and build encounters in folders on your computer! Teach your players the meaning of FEAR today! Happy gaming.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creature Collection II: Dark Menagerie
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Burok Torn: City Under Siege
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 13:15:07

This is a great resource for handling any Dwarf PCs in your party! When you are running a game, remember that the characters come from somewhere, give the gift of history to your players. It's not universal, but it has rich and grounded narrative that can be used in later editions and other fantasy games!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Burok Torn: City Under Siege
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Creature Collection III: Savage Bestiary
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2022 13:10:48

Quality Horrors, uncensored, refreshing, beautiful... more metal than your puny mind has room for. The PDF is actually a strong selling point, this is due to the fact that it is easily navigatable and you can screen capture EXACTLY what you need to run these magnificient creatures! Use Mozilla firefox for easy screen captures and create a folder for specific encounters... your players aren't going to expect these wonderful things!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creature Collection III: Savage Bestiary
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Deviant: The Renegades
by José M. S. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2022 06:03:03

Although the system of variations and scars is compex, it really represents the the theme of "power at a great cost" we see in many media about otherwise common humans with superpowers, and also gives an almost infinite number of possible combinations to desing your Deviant.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deviant: The Renegades
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