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Changing Breeds: Wild West Tales Anthology
Publisher: White Wolf
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/08/2021 10:45:39

Tl;Dr This is one of the best bits of “new” werewolf fiction on the market at the moment. If you are looking for a fresh take on were creatures then buy this anthology.

Review: This may seem like an odd criticism, but the first story by Stephen R. Lickman may be too good. It may just be bias because it was the first I read, and because it involves the Anansi on the first page, but it set the bar so high that few of the other stories met it. Leading with the best story in the anthology is just an interesting editing choice. With that said, this story is superlative. It sets the tone for the entire anthology perfectly and really get the reader into the wild west setting. With that said there is a bit of assumed knowledge with this story. One does need to know what a Corax and an Anansi is to be able to understand the story (and others in this work.) For me that is perfect, but it may not work for every reader. This story in particular features rites and the Wyrm in a way that really respects fans of White Wolf and Onyx Path.

The next standout for me was Dusk Rider. And, for almost the opposite reasons of The Leadville Mind Heist. While I do have a love for the breed in this story, they are revealed in the end, in a great subversion of expectations. I can’t talk much about this story without spoiling it, but, suffice it to say that there is a great economy of storytelling that made Dusk Rider stand out as quite great.

Finally, Bill Bodden does not disappoint with Cat and Crow. This should not be surprising if you know his work with Achtung! Cthulhu and Vengeance of the Shunned, but the way he sets the characters in this story really draws in the reader. Again without giving anything away he let me know what the breed was well before the actual reveal through masterful storytelling. A lot of cat and crow is the “show don’t tell” school of writing that is so rewarding when done correctly. Without giving too much away, Cat and Crow stood out as, far and away having the best developed characters. Mina is such a strong opening character and left quite and impression, and the villain of the piece is a fantastic foil as well.

I wish I could take the time to highlight each story in this anthology, but these were the three I remember the most after reading. Again, it is a great book with 10 fantastic stories.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Changing Breeds: Wild West Tales Anthology
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Trinity Continuum: Distant Worlds
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2020 10:35:35

I have to admit bias as the Stellar Frontier and Alien Encounter books were some of my favorite from the first edition of Aeon Trinity. Having some of the content from those books plus their themes and a whole bunch more is exactly my wheelhouse. This is absolutely the Aeon book I have been waiting for. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are a ton of locations in the book. About one hundred pages in the book is dedicated to extraterrestrial locations. They are not created equally (and I will get to that below) but as a storyteller I can find great things about every one of them. Simply reading through the entries sparks plot threads that I know I won’t have time to unravel no matter how many games I get to run.
After the locations is about fifteen pages of technology including some vehicles, weapons, biotechs. Mostly what one would expect from this type of book though there are some standouts. What I wasn’t expecting was the section on relics and artifacts. This is a robust section of about ten pages of very interesting bits of alien tech that also spark countless story ideas.
I was surprised that there were not more edges and paths to be honest and I think that the edges and paths section could have been fleshed out a hair. If that is your reason coming to this book these two pages are going to leave you wanting more. Finally, the final thirty five pages are devoted to the Qin. Again I don’t want to spoil anything, so allow me to simply say that this section is superlative. The rest of the book would have work very hard to overcome the five stars this section earned all on its own. This brings me to cons. The biggest con I had with this book is that of consistency. This book had eight listed authors and it shows. God Bless Colleen Riley because the writing styles are jarringly diverse. The best example I can give is with the section on Far Nyumba. I loved the way the author choose to break down that location to “The Way Things Were, The Way Things Are, and The Way Things Might Go.” The author in three pages really highlights a very interesting location. It is the only time in the book that Past/Present/Future breakdown is used. On Karroo the author breaks down the differences between the “Rich and the Poor” in its own unique subsection dedicated to the differences. On Eden however there is a section about the “Two Sets of Rules” between the Neutrals and the Novas. A bit more consistency would have made the rulebook easier to read and incorporate into gaming tables. My final thought though is that the entire book is fantastic, and I understand the realities of Onyx Path and their authors. The book is wonderful, and each section, on its own is great. The only time there is a negative is when the book is read quickly (like one does when they are excited for their new toy.)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in more information about the core setting for Aeon Trinity.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trinity Continuum: Distant Worlds
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Consumed
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/27/2019 13:12:11

Consumed is a very nice, quick side adventure for a 5e D&D campaign. If you just need to have a quick diversion on the way through the fantastic world of Scarred Lands with minimal prep then this is the adventure for you. The Gauntlings alone are a cool enough enemy that this adventure stands out and I suspect once you see how they are used in this adventure you will want to include them in other adventures as well. The author goes above and beyond giving newer DMs suggestions on how to accessorize their game and enhance player experience.

So, what are the nitpicks? There actually are not a lot for this one. I know that my players love handouts and maps, so any adventure without either a great bit of art, a handout for the players, or a map will have that feature mentioned by me. The only other negative that stuck out at me was the treasure listed in the Optional Discovery section. For some reason the Wand of Magic Missile feels like it is stuck in the wrong edition. I would advise DMs to customize the treasure to their parties anyway, so this one is fairly minor to me.

Overall it is a superlative adventure with great skill checks that will give every player the ability to shine.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Consumed
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Children of the Mighty: Unique Races of Ghelspad
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/27/2019 12:59:14

Some things, I am not the target audience for this product. I have been a long time fan of Scarred lands, and I am a well established D&D player and DM who really enjoys world building and character creation. With that said this product is good for anyone who needs quick characters that are well established and have a good amount of flavor. The Asaatthi Wizard for example is a very interesting take on the Asaatthi from a racial archetype perspective. One of the things that I really enjoy about character creation is making characters that go against the tropes. Also, to be very honest, despite having a long history with the setting I had completely forgotten about the Piterin race. They are fantastic, and the Druid absolutely is a flavorful way to take the character.

So, why 3 stars. Well, to me the character descriptions are fantastic. The write ups before the sheets are superlative. The problem is that the font choices (and to a less extent the sheets themselves) are really bad. This extends to economy of space in the way the gear is presented on the sheets, as often smaller fonts are chosen, but a lot of white space remains on each sheet. The way the abilities are presented are not very clear to newer players. (Specifically I am thinking of uncanny dodge not specifying that it requires a reaction by the player, but there are a few others.) As the main focus of this product is the sheets, I just don’t think they are good enough.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Children of the Mighty: Unique Races of Ghelspad
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Desert of Lost Relics
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2019 14:20:58

Desert of lost relics is another fantastic entry in the Vengeance of the Shunned campaign. This module again opens with one of my players’ favorite things, Handouts. So the hooks to get them invested in the module happen before even chapter one starts. I am not sold on making my players bored. I understanding that it is setting a tone, but it may take a better game master to pull this off. AFTER the desert part though the module really gets going.

The initial scripted encounter with the unredeemed Asaatthi is truly devious, and even a middling DM will be able to make this encounter rather shocking. The turncoat slaves are a great touch and allows the DM a lot of flexibility when it comes to dramatic tension.

The fortress itself is very well designed. Honest, I could gush for a page about how consistently fantastic Anne Gregersen’s cartography has been throughout these modules. Suffice it to say that the maps in this adventure are wonderful. If your group is into pushing figures around the table then these maps are perfect for you. If you use a VTT then the modules have you covered. If you are into a more theatre of the mind approach to encounters, then, again the module is set up so that isn’t a problem. Dungeon ecology is an art and Vengeance of the Shunned has nailed it thus far.

Again, in the fortress we have a random encounter table. These aren’t cool for me as a DM. (I prefer to plan out my players’ encounters a bit more, and enjoy milestone advancements), but they are here if any DMs want them. The scripted encounters though are very well done with some new enemies and some old classics.

The monsters section brings back some old classics. I do think that the art choice for one of them is really odd as the artist drew the giant mantis derpy, but also with equipment and a spear, while the monsters, as presented, are Intelligence 3 giant bugs. This is a fairly minor nitpick. Overall, I would say that Desert of Lost Relics, in my opinion, may not be strongest entry in the Vengeance of the Shunned campaign, but it is still a 9 among 10s. A lot of what takes away from it, for me, come down to personal DM preference.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Desert of Lost Relics
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Creator Reply:
Preston, Thank you again for your incredible review. I am thrilled to hear that the campaign is continuing to be enjoyable. I look forward to your thoughts on the next installment! Thanks, Travis
The Treasure of Magister Yama
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/23/2019 14:37:57

One thing that players love is handouts. The area map for this adventure is a perfect handout (it looks great printed on legal paper even if you don’t have fancy parchment.) Not only that, but there is the opportunity to have some journal excerpts as well. These two small details really make this already superior adventure one that your players will remember for years if you implement them well at your table.

The other really well-done aspect that isn’t directly related to the adventure itself is the quality of the maps. I have a local group so I don’t use a virtual Table Top, but the maps are there if you do, and they work great if you don’t. Well done maps are one of those make or break things for some encounters, and in this module the encounter maps are fantastic.

So, how is the adventure? Well, I have biases, so I am likely not the best judge for this entry into Vengence of the Shunned campaign. See I have a huge soft spot for Lovecraftian horror, and this module knocks that aspect out of the park. The text box on page 3 really seals the deal and offers some amazing advice for dungeon masters. The village of Lapo is presented in such a way to make it very easy for DMs to evoke the creepy aesthetic of stories like The Colour Out of Space.

The adventure is longer than the previous two coming in at about 20 pages of adventure text. There is a new template for some encounters that make sense in the adventure as well as two examples using the template and an NPC that utilizes that template. There is another new aberration also in this module. There are a new true ritual and a magical hazard as well. Overall this is a fantastic core adventure for the Vengence of the Shunned campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Treasure of Magister Yama
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Creator Reply:
Preston! Thanks so much for the detailed and thoughtful review! Dan's writing and Anne's maps have been pure joy to see come together, and I am glad to see you have enjoyed them as well! Thanks, Travis
A Scholarly Schism
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/11/2019 10:35:50

The adventure opens with a very interesting and refreshing take on the "bandits on the road" encounter that serves to actually drive forward the narrative.

After that, The Bridged City is truly a magical city like is often promised in Dungeons and Dragons adventures but is seldom delivered. The variety of gameplay between A Mishap of Ill Portent and this adventure already is quite vast. Want to role play using a dwarvish bomb to blow a hole into a force field and break into a sealed wizard and magical engineering academy? This is the perfect adventure for you.

The series initial big bad is revealed and she seems fairly fierce. I don't want to give any spoilers, but the fact that the authors choose to utilize the setting specific tattoo magic is great.

I will say that this adventure COULD be played without playing A Mishap of Ill Portent, but a lot of the content in this adventure references back to that adventure in such a way that it is all but requisite.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Scholarly Schism
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Creator Reply:
Thank you SO MUCH for this review! Glad to hear you are enjoying the campaign so far! - Travis
A Mishap of Ill Portent
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2019 16:31:28

This is a fantastic adventure. One thing about it without playing it, that it seems REALLY easy for PC deaths to snowball. There are a few mechanics that combine together with dexterity saving throws where a small amount of damage can add up to drop PCs fairly easily. Scorch zombies are a great monster that this adventure features well. As the opening for this adventure I might swap out the reward that the sheriff offers with a healing potion for each PC rather than the gp. Regardless I am super excited for the future of this series. I plan to run this module quickly but will only update this review if something really odd happens.

The adventure is about eight pages long and encompasses two chapters. There are two pages with four stat blocks and two new magic items.

One thing that I want to really highlight about this module is that the way the map works. There are files for using the module with a virtual table top, but they also include eighteen different versions of the map where the first encounter takes place because of the flexible nature of this encounter. It really is a very high level of customizability that I have never seen in a D&D adventure before.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Mishap of Ill Portent
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for this amazing review! I'm glad to hear you like the map setup! I wanted to be sure that GMs who prefer theater of the mind have a robust enough system to run the encounter, but also provide a map structure for groups and GMs that prefer that level of rigidity while still reflecting the chaos of the situation. You are absolutely right about PC danger here, but the ask of the adventure is certainly a perilous situation. The players will need to think clearly and quickly, and possibly do a little risk assessment before acting. Fortunately, opportunities lie within the adventure to move the story forward even in the face of near-total failure. I look forward to hearing how the scenario lays out at different tables! Thanks, Travis
Miracles of the Solar Exalted
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Preston B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/18/2016 07:54:37

Let me be very clear here. If you are buying Exalted 3rd edition, and not spending the $3.99 on this title you are doing it wrong.

This book is a TON of value packaged into 40 pages.

The interuction alone is one of the best and clearest explainations of something that Exalted fans have wanted since the first edition.

The charms are ALL top notch and the vast majority feature very insightful commentary from the author that expand on them even more.

I don't want to spoil the final charm in the book but the ideas it gives (and the roleplaying opertunities Divinity-Conferring Touch gives as well) have the potential to have players rethink campaigns (in a good way.)

Overall I can think of MANY much worse ways a gamer can spend $3.99.

TL;DR Buy this book. You will be happy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Miracles of the Solar Exalted
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