Review Roundup

Posted on June 17, 2010 by

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I’ve had the chance to read and try out a few new products, so I thought I’d put together a quick article with some reviews.  Stuff from play aids, to books, and software, so let’s check it out…

The Kobold Guide to Game Design 3:  Tools and Techniques


Before I review this, I’ll point out that I never read the previous two volumes in the series, so I cannot compare how this one stacks up to the other ones.  Having said that, this collection of essays from some of the more important names in the RPG industry is quite the entertaining read, even if being a game designer isn’t your dream job.

The book consists of twelve essays by Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Rob Heinsoo, Colin McComb, and Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms.

As you can probably gather from the name, the essays are all about design.  Whether it’s plot or mechanics, the book tackles it all.  Now, being a 4e DM, my favorite article was written by Rob Heinsoo.  Rob was the lead designer of 4e D&D, and he shares many anecdotes and “behind the courtain” nuggets in his essay titled “Seize the Hook”.

Even if design isn’t your thing (it isn’t mine btw), this book is not a hard read.  If you love design, well then, what can I say.  This is right up your alley.  I must admit, there’s a chapter on designing a quick and dirty combat system that I enjoyed reading.

So in closing, I recommend the book.  The essays are fast reads that will give you some insight into what goes behind the game you’re playing.  It’s never preachy or condescending, and doesn’t assume you already are a designer of sorts.  Although to an extent, what DM isn’t some sort of designer?

You can find the book here.

Stuffer Shack’s Adventurer’s Bundle

The lowest price on Ebay for the ‘Desert of Desolation’ Warhorse mini, at the time of this writing was around $9.00 with shipping.  That’s a fairly steep price to pay for a horse miniature for D&D.  Stuffer Shack sells an equally useful set of horse minis at 5 for $14.00, or about $2.80 a horse.  Now, these horse are not as nicely sculpted as the official mini, and the glue holding one of them to the base came loose in my set, but they are good enough for your game if you find the WOTC one too pricey in the secondhand market and really want  horse minis.

The base comes with a bit of putty, so that you can attach a mini of the character who is “riding” the horse.  The horses are glued to the plastic bases, they are not permanently attached.

Stuffer Shack sells a couple of other things, and what they sent me for review is a combination of all of them, called “Adventurer’s Bundle” and it retails for $24.97.

It consists of the aforementioned horse miniatures, 5 bloodied markers (consisting of a red plastic with an “x” label attached to it and some putty to place it on the bloodied mini), and 10 mini counters (a black plastic with a numbered label and some putty to attach it to the mini).

All these items are available separately, but you save a little bit if you bundle them up.  I personally believe that while the idea behind the product is solid, the price may be a little high for what you are getting.  Having said that, the convenience of numbering and marking minis, along with clearly defining who is bloody may outweigh that at your table.  For what it’s worth, I found them useful the other day in my SWSE game.

Stuffer Shacks store is located here.

Chaotic Shiny Treasure Hoard Generator Pack

This product is really, really neat. It generates all sorts of treasure in 4e style parcels.  The only thing it does not do is add weapons or armor to the mix.

Let’s say I wanted to generate a level 14 parcel.  The program gave me this:

Level 14 treasure parcel, total value: 8,639 gp

Jewelry:
* A small amethyst charm with a longbow and a dog on the front and the same on the back.  (575 gp value)

Art:
* A somewhat large carving of a very tall, broken-hearted servant. It was done in a hyperrealistic style. It is in great condition. It might hide an even more valuable work. (787 gp value)
* A small painting depicting a purchase involving an old man. It was done in a distinctive style.  (662 gp value)

Gems:
* Amber (663 gp value)
* Carneliens (1,074 gp value)
* Malachite (496 gp value)

Food and Drink:
* Fine elven wine (1,227 gp value)

Potions:
* Silvery and steaming slightly, contained in a flask with runes carved on the side. The potion smells like medicine and tastes safe.  (680 gp value)
* Fuscia with white swirls and nearly ice cold, contained in an oddly decorated vial. The potion smells like blood and tastes somewhat like baking bread.  (893 gp value)
* Pink and smoking, contained in a plain flask. The potion smells good and tastes like blood.  (1,247 gp value)

Coins: 112 gold pieces and 223 gp worth of exotic coins

Broken down by type, I got descriptions of jewelry, art, potions, gems, food and drink, and coins.  It’s defined as a Level 14 treasure parcel, total value: 8,639 gp.  Granted, in the DMG this isn’t a treasure parcel amount, but it falls withing the guidelines and it’s not game breaking.  If there’s something you don’t like, you can always edit it before printing it out.

This does not include any magic items from the PHB, it is strictly for other types of loot.  It is very useful however, to turn a boring “780gp  painting” into something a little more colorful.

The other cool thing this does is let you design coins for your world.  Check it out:

I created a very cheesy coin with my avatar.  The point is you can use your art to make coins for your world, and print them out and have for handouts, etc… neat stuff.

For $3.95, the price isn’t bad, in fact it is very generous, and the product works rather nicely.  I recommend it. 

You can find it here.

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Posted in: 4e D&D, Gaming