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Racial Varients Volume I
Publisher: Fearless Goblin Games
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/10/2011 13:16:42

The Racial Variants starts with what looks like a good idea: bring back the "sub races" to D&D 4. It's a short product (12 pages). There are 6 of these subraces (here called "bloodlines"), one for each race of the PHB 1 (except for the half-elf and the human). Each bloodline has a few description paragraphs, and variant racial abilities and power.

So we have the city elf, which lives in cities as it name implies. The city elf can run on wall (which is a quite fun ability), and a power to reroll Acrobatics and Athletics checks. It seemed to me quite useless at first, but in fact, when running on the wall, you may need to make a lot of Athletics checks, so it is quite useful in the end.

Then the couatl dragonborn, which descends from couatl instead from dragons. Again a beautiful and interresting idea. The couatl dragonborn can escape grasps better (certainly because of its snake-like body), and has a new racial power.

Concerning this racial power, a lot of things to say... a) The flavor text is "flavor text", which made me laugh. In fact, it happens with all further powers, please do something about it ;) b) Melee bite is not defined in the SRD. Melee contact is more appropriate c) the bonus to the attack roll should scale with the level (+4 at level 11, +6 at level 21), otherwise, the character has no chance to hit at higher level with this racial power d) ongoing damage on a Encounter power is, I think, a bad balance idea. Encounter powers which have a (save ends) effect are pretty rare, and I think it is done for balance issues. I would remove it and change it for a minor condition

Then we have the feral eladrin, which is a more savage version of this feyish race. They fight with their bare hands and they are quite powerful at it. Concerning the War step racial power, the term "towards an ennemy" is ambiguous. Does it mean that you have to finish your move adjacent to an ennemy, or simply closer?

Then we have the sinner tiefling, which is a tiefeling that embrace its "dark side". Nothing much to say except that there are some discrepencies in how the power is written. The "Aura" range does not exists. Official racial powers are all encounter powers. The target line seems to me completly useless given the fact that the text explains the power well.

Then we have the stone-kin dwarf, which is simply the most unbalanced race I have ever seen. +3 to all defenses and resist all equal to half your level? no, please, change that. Maybe do it as a power, but not as a permanent racial ability. A racial bonus to defense should not exceed +2, and should improve only one defense. The resist all is a killer at high level.

Finally we have the timid halfling, which does not have the bravery of the other halfelings. I like the power, which is fun.

Then some talents. All make sense, but I still have a few comments and concerns = Potent Dawn Venom = I already said that the ongoing damage was a little too much in my opinion, and increasing it by 5 just makes it blow... I would rather increase the base damage, or inflict a somewhat more advanced condition = Surefooted = I would rather write "+2 to Athletics checks to climb". Climb is not a skill, Athletics is. = Hellfire infreno and Blood and Fire = given the fact that the hellfire wreath is a daily power, I find that these talents make it quite broken. I would rewrite the Hellfire wreath power to make it as an encounter power, and adjust these talents accordingly.

On overall, here are my advice : = "Flavor text" has no flavor (it is an easy star to gain) = Not enough fluff =_ Some powers and abilities poorly balanced



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Racial Varients Volume I
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Venture 4th: Pact of the Vermin Lords
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 09:06:27

The first pact from Adamant Entertainment. Interesting idea, but there is something striking...

The pact boon allows to deal ongoing damage on the next warlock power, and I don't think it is a good idea for balance. The insect pact has a special class feature that allows to control insects instead of the warlock curse, which is interesting.

Still, there are a few balance concerns in the powers:

  • sustainable encounter powers
  • (save ends) effects with encounter powers
  • for Your are my Host, I don't understand why the (weakened) condition ends at the end of the next turn whereas there is ongoing damage (save ends). It seems illogical.
  • a stun (save ends) on a miss.... (even if it is for a 29 power)... no, that's overpowered...

Otherwise, it is a good product with interesting ideas.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Venture 4th: Pact of the Vermin Lords
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Venture 4th: Pact of Ghosts
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 08:57:14

The last pact (at this time) from Adament Entertainment. Finally, there is no "I have a better warlock curse" class features! yes! (and the first picture is really beautiful).

Well, it would be great to have no balance concerns... here are a short list:

  • a power that has a miss effect with a (save ends)...
  • "ghost pact augmentations" that are badly designed (Cold Ghosts of Limbo... Death Shadowy Pickets...)
  • rahhhh, a (save ends) effect on an encounter...
  • Window of the Other World looks like a 29 level.

Otherwise, this is perhaps the most balanced Pact from Adamant Entretainment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Venture 4th: Pact of Ghosts
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Venture 4th: Pact of the Dragon Lords
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 08:43:02

The fourth pact from Adamant Entertainment, and guess what, I still don't like the layout, and the "I have a better warlock curse" class feature. But, well...

The dragon pact warlock is almost a melee combattant, which is fun. It reminds me the Dragon Disciple 3.5 prestige class. You choose at 1st level an energy, and many of your spells deal damage from this energy. By the way, it would have been better to create a special keyword instead of repeating the same paragraph over and over. Of course (sic), there are a few balance concerns:

  • low-light vision for 5 minutes as an encounter level 2 utility ????? (it is not the only encounter power which lasts for 5 minutes, it is bad design).
  • there are some allusions to a "breath weapon attack" in Bloodied Breath (I am sure you mean "secondary attack" ?)
  • "dragon pact augmentation" are sometimes overpowered (Dominating Stare...)
  • Cloud of Acid (level 22 utility) is an attack power!!! (Armor of the Patron Lord too)
  • the 2 paragon path have no prerequisites...


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Venture 4th: Pact of the Dragon Lords
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Venture 4th: Pact of Blood
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 08:26:38

As I play in the Scarred Lands, I was eager to see this blood pact. It is an interesting product, but once more time, I didn't like the layout, and the kind of "better warlock curse" class feature.

There are interesting powers which draw on the warlock hp (or adjacent allies). However, some are overpowered or badly designed (for example, no (save ends) effects on encounter powers). Once more time, some "blood pact augmentations" are ... overpowered ... (The Delicacy of Flesh... Storm of Blades... [non-exhaustive list]). Otherwise, this is a good product with good ideas.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Venture 4th: Pact of Blood
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Venture 4th: Pact of the Angelic Choirs
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 08:10:05

This pact is really interresting, because it makes a "good-alignment" equivalent with the infernal pact. It is really easy to include this pact in any ongoing campaign.

Overall, it is a good product, but I have a few concerns:

  • I didn't like at all the layout of the product. I read it on screen, and I find it is too heavy to read.
  • The "true name" class feature is just better than the warlock curse, and I don't understand why it is there. i mean, the warlock can know the truename of a creature just by looking at it? no Arcana, History or Religion check?
  • The "angelic pact augmentation" on some powers are just overpowered (Burning Bright, I am looking at you!) or badly designed
  • Some encounter spells ave (save ends) effects, which is bad (Words of Power is really overpowered)
  • Apocalypse is a controler spell, not a striker spell!!!


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Venture 4th: Pact of the Angelic Choirs
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Hero's Handbook: Eladrin
Publisher: Goodman Games
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 07:50:45

Another excellent book on eladrin culture. The first and last chapters of this book describe the eladrin history and culture, and are really interesting. The second chapter desribes new feats and paragon path. These one are quite interesting, but there was nothing for PHB2 classes, which is a bit disappointing. Then there are new items, and new rituals, including 6 curses. Curses affect a target until someone removes the curse, or until a certain condition is met. Finally, there are some new monsters in relation to the eladrin history, but I think that this chapter should not belong to a "hero" handbook...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hero's Handbook: Eladrin
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Hero's Handbook: Tiefling
Publisher: Goodman Games
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2009 07:41:49

An excellent book for tieflings. In there are introduced Legacies, which represents affiliation with a specific devil. There are a dozen of legacies (all are common sins, like lust, gluttony, etc), with a full description, feats and paragon path. It reminds me the good old Book of Vile Darkness. All the crunch is really good and innovative (like a gluttony power which allows to eat material like stone or metal, and gain benefit from it), and seems well balanced. The fluff is really good too.

It is a must have for tiefling character, as well as for any player which wants an "evil" feeling.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hero's Handbook: Tiefling
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Clever Classes: The Explorer
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/22/2009 14:29:07

Some publishers (and many fans) have attempted to make a martial controller, and the Explorer is one of them. However, I think this one is pretty interesting. The book itself has around 60 pages, and is very light. The layout is clear and the reading quite comfortable, even on screen.

The book begins with a description of the explorer, following the standard 4E format. A small complaint is that I would have seen the explorer proficient with all simple weapons, but this is not really important. The explorer has the alchemist feat from the Adventurer's Vault, and uses this feat better than others. The explorer can choose either to gain a beast companion (which is similar to both the arcane familiar of Arcane Power and the beast ranger of Martial Power), or to weaken an opponent when he rolls a natural 1. At last, the explorer can create difficult terrain around him, and is good at making range attacks. There is a list of companions (with their stats), and also 3 differents builds for the explorer.

Then come the exploits, from level 1 to 29. I didn't read all yet, but some of them are pretty innovative. I think about Uncover the hidden (utility 10), which allows the explorer to discover (in game terms: create) some strange terrains 1/day. There are a few fluff sidebars (on eladrin/dragonborn/etc explorers), like in the Power books. There is a new condition, trapped, which is pretty powerful, but also very interesting for a controller: a trapped creature takes damage when it attacks. Also, there are more than 4 powers by level (around 6 or 7), which gives quite a lot of options to choose from.

Then there are 9 paragon path, which covers some specific aspects of the explorer or focuses on a specific class ability (like the master alchemist, for example). There is also a trapsmith, that I have found quite interesting too. There are 2 epic destinies, the destiny tracker (which is also available to rangers), and the twilight walker (hum... the utility power of the Twilight walker seems very powerful). This section ends with a one-page long story, which depicts an ordinary day for an explorer. I would have begun the book with this story, but it doesn't matter anyway.

Then there are a large number of explorer-specific feats. Some of the feats are racial feats too (and some of them are for races published in other products of Alluria Publishing). There is also a new category of feats, "weapon commands" feats which allow the character to add some properties to whips. However, only one weapon command can be applied at the same time (this feats are not stance, even if they work quite the same way). There are also some multiclass feats.

Thereafter there is two kinds of whips (and a new weapon group: lashes), some new magic items (principally weapons and armors. Also, there are no new alchemical formulae, which is quite disappointing since it is one of the important features of the explorer). The book concludes with 6 interesting backgrounds.

LIKED

  • good ideas. It's a complete class with a lot of options
  • good layout. Easy to read on screen, and printer-friendly

DISLIKED

  • pictures were not that great

OVERALL

  • very satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clever Classes: The Explorer
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Templates: Grimoire #2
Publisher: Sade
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/22/2009 06:13:43

Really beautiful template. It reminds me the cover of the Relics & Rituals book, and it was exactly what I was looking for. However, I have found that the files are quite heavy, even when compressed in .jpg format.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Templates: Grimoire #2
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Creator Reply:
Im really glad you like it! i wanted something elegant fantasy template but not clische. It's under-used template, not popular, like my others. The filesizes: yes, they are big, because if you want print it in really good resolution, it must have. And making little file from big is easy, making big file from little is quality lost. Thank you for the feedback, its means me alot!
Creature Collection - A Compendium of 4th Edition Monstrous Foes
Publisher: Fiery Dragon
by alain g. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2009 14:03:52

A very good product, that would please any fan of the Scarred Lands and of 4E.

LIKED:

  • the monsters are really well-written (and balanced), and catch the feeling of both 4E and Scarred Lands (I love Athentia, a level 33 solo which is really, really dangerous)
  • Scarred Land fluff almost everywhere. It has not changed a bit since D&D 3.X
  • beautiful illustration (old and new)

DISLIKED:

  • some new illustrations are not that great
  • I would like to have a short presentation of the Scarred Lands somewhere


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creature Collection - A Compendium of 4th Edition Monstrous Foes
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