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Peter and the Starcatchers
Peter and the Starcatchers
by Ridley Pearson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.46
350 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a "prequel," but not fantastic either, March 2, 2009
I know the vague details of the Peter Pan story, so some of my reading of this book served to make we wonder, "How are they going to get from 'here' to 'there'?"

Barry and Pearson have done a very good job with making the book fly by - my one issue would be that for a novel that really clicked along the paces was that it was pretty long; I chalk this up to the multiple points of view that were expressed (at times showing the same scene or very close to it from several different points of view). While it made some of the characters a little better fleshed out, it did slow certain parts of the book down when they should have been FLYING (pun intended).

I don't know if it was intentional or not, but after about halfway through the book I got to wondering if the character I initially believed to be the one "Hookified" was actually going to BE the one; I expect that this might have been more along my expectations for a novel to present some twists and turns and thus am on the lookout for such possibilities.

I don't think that I'll continue to follow the series - while the book wasn't an awful read I don't know if I would want to continue to read the multiple-character-narrative again if it drags the action to a near standstill.

Plus, I'm just not all that interested in Peter Pan.


True20 Bestiary
True20 Bestiary
by Matthew E. Kaiser
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If all you're looking for is "fantasy SRD conversions," you're good-to-go, February 23, 2009
This review is from: True20 Bestiary (Paperback)
Having been quite pleased with the True20 products I had purchased (and reviewed) thus far, I was most interested to see the True20 Bestiary and what new and exciting things it could bring to True20 play.

Sadly, this book was very little of what I had hoped to find, as it could have just as easily been titled "The True20 Guide to SRD Creatures, Plus a Little Bit on How to Make Your Own."

The Book Itself

True20 Bestiary is a 192 page paperback printed in black and white. A quick flip through shows much of every page devoted to text explaining how the game works, interspersed with B&W art of varying quality. The print is a shade on the small side, but that allows for that much more information to be presented.

While I was excited to see that Kent Burles wasn't the sole interior artist this time (as he had been for the True20 Handbooks and I am not fond of his art), I was somewhat disappointed at most of the illustrations - most seemed to be little better than filler, and none particularly stood out. The way that the stat blocks are presented are also somewhat daunting from a quick flip-through, as much of it is dense text.

Chapter Breakdown

The chapter begins with how to "Make Monsters," which largely boils down to what you want said monster to be able to do, how big, how powerful and what "type" it will be. Setting the "Creature Level" seems like it's an attempt to be a rough approximation of the "Challenge Rating" from SRD D20, where CR = Creature Level. As creatures in True20 don't have the issue with Hit Point escalation that the D20 ones do, this seems odd to work with.

Following the fantasy types are sci-fi types which do seem to be a good fit for such a campaign; it's just a shame than none of said types get very well fleshed out examples in the actual "Bestiary" chapter.

The rest of the chapter rounds out the creation of said creature, giving examples for movement types, attack types and creature "traits," which really would have been better described as "special abilities." All of the examples are really just adaptations of the D20 SRD creature qualities, and none of them really seem suited for anything other than the fantasy genre.

Chapter Two: Bestiary

Remember my description on what I thought this book would have been better titled at the beginning of the review? That's what this chapter - and the better part of the book - really encompasses. The next 150 pages of the book are essentially a conversion of the OGC monsters available, and nothing that couldn't be accomplished on one's own using either the conversion guide in the Revised Edition or "Appendix C" at the beck of the book.

The adaptation of the dragons was interesting, where the dragon colors were replaced by dragon terrain types (so a Red Dragon becomes a "Fire Dragon," a Green a "Forest," Blue a "Sky," etc.), but otherwise the conversions are pretty much that - conversions.

As the chapter is pretty much all D20 SRD conversion, there aren't ANY creatures that are specific for a non-fantasy game. Sure, you can use undead in horror games, and the animals can be for any number of genres where you would want to have animals... But there aren't any generic robots, aliens or anything else non-fantasy. As one of True20's strengths - in my opinion - is that it can handle so much more than just fantasy, it seems particularly hobbling for this product to basically just cater to those looking to play D&D 3.5 with a slightly different ruleset.

Chapter Three: Creature Templates

As this chapter is basically a word-for-word copy of the SRD material, I will refer you to there: Templates. The specific templates described can be found in the specific monster description of the SRD. Why this information wasn't included in the previous chapter seems somewhat strange, as they could have saved on space.

Appendix A: Expanded Archaic Weapons

See the SRD Weapon List. I really wish there was more to say than that.

Appendix B: New Supernatural Powers

A handful (little more than half a dozen) of new Powers are presented, all of which are otherwise available in the Adept's Handbook.

Appendix C: Converting D20 Creatures

The title of this appendix seems somewhat ironic to me, seeing as how it is pretty much the focus of the rest of the book. The conversion process seems somewhat belabored compared to the very concise version in the Revised Edition rules (three pages vs. 6 lines). The conversion of D20 spells is somewhat useful, and I don't recall having seen it anywhere else.

Overall

Even for completists of the most extreme nature, I would be hard pressed to recommend this book to anyone. As just about all of the material is taken from the original D20 SRD and thus freely available - and the ease of conversion from D20 to True20 - this was so much less that I hoped the product to be. The exclusion of any other than fantasy creature types makes use of this book very limited.


True20 Warriors Handbook
True20 Warriors Handbook
by Matthew E. Kaiser
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
28 used & new from $4.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine supplement for Warriors and other Roles alike, February 23, 2009
True20 Warrior's Handbook is the last - and shortest - of three supplemental books to be used in conjunction with the True20 core rules, providing additional combat related information regarding the Role of Warrior.

The Book Itself

True20 Warrior's Handbook is a 64 page paperback printed in black and white. A quick flip through shows much of every page devoted to text explaining how the game works, interspersed with B&W art.

The print is a shade on the small side, but that allows for that much more information to be presented.

Chapter Breakdown

Chapter One: Warrior Creation

The chapter begins with over a dozen sample backgrounds to help develop Warrior characters, nearly a dozen new Core abilities for Warriors and two modified Warrior Role variants: Fighter and Mystic Knight..

The rest of the chapter is devoted to the description/implementation of about thirty "Fighting Styles," largely in the vein that the "Supernatural Philosophies" were presented in the Adept's Handbook; by combining various Feats that the Warrior may or may not have normal access to a particular style of combat is approximated, which gives similarly designed characters a chance to be mechanically different, as well as provide some flavor for the otherwise dry mechanics.

Chapter Two: Skills and Feats

There is only a little bit of this chapter that actually covers different uses for Skills, and the majority of those uses are with regard to either military structure or action-movie-stunts. The military specific Skill uses all seem very well thought out, but I'm not certain how much use they would see in a game either I would run or play in.

The Feats are again plentiful, and with over 40 General and over 60 Warrior-specific Feats there is no shortage of ways to make your character work the way you would like. I will say that I wished some of the Warrior-specific Feats had been included in the Core rules (particularly the ones relating to more modern combat), but having them definitely makes for less houseruling and thus more play time.

The vast majority of the Feats deal with combat, but given the nature of the Role covered this is not to be unexpected.

Chapter Three: The Arsenal

This chapter goes into the specifics of weapons and armor through the various tech levels previously covered in the Revised Edition of the Core rules - from the earliest (Stone Age) to most futuristic (Energy Age), the equipment seems well done.

There are some odd omissions with regard to the descriptions; why some items are described and others not is somewhat puzzling, but the omitted items for the most part could be construed as "self explanatory."

Chapter Four: Expanded Combat

The chapter opens with "Advanced Damage," rules for tinkering with criticals, margins of success for Combat rolls, having "ping" damage introduced and how to deal with instant death (if desired). The small section on the margins of success relating to damage actually provided an answer to that I had been considering, and it was good to know that I wasn't the only one that was wondering about the potential viability of that sort of mechanic.

The next section details "Free Attacks," i.e., Attacks of Opportunity, and how to reintroduce them into True20. I was personally pleased to have seen that AoOs had been removed in the first place, but I can understand why there was a desire to want to integrate them back in (hello, D&D 3.5 compatibility!).

"Knockdown and Knockback" rules are briefly covered, followed by sections for use with miniatures, vehicle combat and mounted combat. Dealing with weapons getting stuck or broken in combat is covered next, and while I would personally not want that level or detail in a game I played or GMed, the option of it there is nice.

"Combat Challenges" (much like "Skill Challenges") and "Stunts" are next described, and while I like the idea of integrating "Stunts" I'm still not 100% certain of how they are supposed to work; the text isn't particularly clear as to where the line between Feat and Stunt needs to be drawn.

Variants for initiative and infection are covered next, as well as making the Toughness Save into a Damage roll and turning the rest of the Saves into static Defense Scores - much as they are in D&D 4E. I could see where having the players roll for just about everything could save an online GM a lot of headaches.

The chapter finishes off with rules for Mass Combat, which are pretty much just the normal Combat rules with minor tweaks.

Overall

The inclusion of the Feats make this an invaluable resource for both players and GMs alike. As with the True20 core rules, not everything presented is designed or intended to work together, so some care is needed when introducing this to an ongoing campaign or when taken into consideration for a new campaign.

As I know that my group enjoys combat quite a bit, having all the extra fiddly bits to make each character mechanically distinct - while at the same time not having mounds of additional actual rules - is something that will be referenced heavily at the table and during chargen.
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True 20 Adventure
True 20 Adventure
by Matthew E. Kaiser
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $19.07

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a minor tweaking of the d20 ruleset, February 20, 2009
This review is from: True 20 Adventure (Paperback)
I have known about True20 for some time, but had been operating under some faulty assumptions about it that really prevented me from wanting to take a look at it further (for example, thinking that it used some version of Hit Points). I was most pleased to discover a system that had been adapted from the d20 SRDs into its own very well designed multi-genre game.

The Book Itself

True20 Adventure Roleplaying Revised Edition (henceforth just referred to as True20 when addressing the system) is a 264 page paperback printed in black and white. A quick flip through shows much of every page devoted to text explaining how the game works, interspersed with B&W art of varying quality. The print is a shade on the small side, but that allows for that much more information to be presented.

The System

True20 really boils down to the basics of d20: Attribute + Skill Rating + d20 to beat either a static Difficulty Check or opposed check. Where it differs from more "traditional d20" is that the middleman of the attribute number has been eliminated and the True20 Attribute is what would normally be the bonus from said d20 attribute.

While this is pretty easy to grasp, I can say from personal experience that not everyone will take to it so well as one of my gaming friends - who is well familiar with standard D&D 3.5 d20 - can't quite seem to make the disconnect and dislikes the idea of negative attributes rather intensely.

Chapter Breakdown

I'll be honest; I skip most of these sorts of bits in most books, and this was no exception. I did skim enough of it to find out that the Revised Edition not only has the errata fixes from the previous edition, but also has the better part of the True20 Companion folded in vice the original settings.

The Basics

As one would imagine, most the majority of the system is touched on in these seven pages, from how Difficulty Checks should scale to the flow of combat. A very good primer for what follows, and the majority of it can be previewed here: [...]

Chapter One: Hero Creation, Chapter Nine: Role Creation

True20 still uses levels and Classes, but it has distilled down said Classes to three "all-encompassing" Roles: Adept, Expert and Warrior ([...] The standard d20 attributes of Strength (Str), Dexterity (Dex), Constitution (Con), Intelligence (Int), Wisdom (Wis) and Charisma (Cha) are used, and six points are allocated to be distributed as the player desires.

One of my misconceptions about the system immediately became apparent, which is that True20 doesn't use an escalating Hit Point system - this was somewhat of a surprise to me. Instead, a Toughness Save is used which is a derivative of the Injury system ([...]) from Unearthed Arcana, where the damage determined is a static amount that then a character needs to resist. I like the idea in concept, but I think that if I played using the system I would probably switch to something that allowed for a damage roll instead (with then similar results for injuries).

Every class gets a pick of four Feats or Powers at level 1 and then a Feat/Power every level after that, which allows for significant differentiation between characters rather quickly.

Additionally, every character has a pool of points called Conviction which can be used for various in-game benefits (re-rolling poor rolls, etc.) with an additional use dependent on the "base" Class (read: level 1) that the character has chosen.

I have included Chapter Nine in this as well as it goes and breaks down how each of the three Classes have been configured from a balance perspective so that more specialized Classes can be made for specific character concepts/campaigns; this many points allotted for Feats, Skills, Combat Bonuses, etc. Seeing the "under-the-hood" of the design was quite a refreshing change for me personally, as I haven't personally experienced many games that have stepped through the "whys" of how things were done so that changes can be made that won't unbalance game play.

Chapter Two: Skills

As mentioned previously, Skills hew to the Attribute + Skill Rank + d20 roll vs. either a fixed DC or opposed check. Generating Skills is somewhat confusing, as the information as to what Skills a character starts with is somewhat buried in the text. I would have preferred to have the Skills be either one or the other as opposed to both, with my personal preference being a given number of Ranks per level for a trained Skill.

Characters begin with a number of Skills determined by Role plus Int at 4 Ranks; raising Skills is done with Skill points (again determined by Role plus Int). Most of the Skills are taken right from the d20 SRD with a few from the Modern SRD (Computers, Drive, Medicine and Pilot), so some of the skills would have little use in a modern/future setting. These can be seen here: [...]

Each Skill is further defined by "Challenges" that may be used in conjunction with said Skill, which increase the DC of the Skill use to provide added benefit - thus making individuals who are highly skilled all the more likely to be capable of accomplishing great tasks.

Chapter Three: Feats

Feats are specialized game mechanics that allow characters to become specialized in whatever manner you'd like, and there is a fair variety for more-than-just-fantasy use. Mind you, many of the Feats are only useful for a fantasy-esque campaign ("Shield Training" immediately comes to mind) and I would have preferred that more modern Feats have been included. A full listing of the Feats available can be found here: [...]

Chapter Four: Supernatural Powers

Powers in True20 work much the same way that Skills do, with the Power Rank (determined by Adept level) being added to Attribute + d20. The concept of having certain capabilities Fatigue the user is introduced, where each time a Power is used the caster/user makes a Fatigue saving throw or is weakened; this replaces the fire-and-forget style of magic that is otherwise largely prevalent in standard d20.

The Powers are of a decent selection, allowing for more modern sorts of adventures more readily than the Feat selections.

Chapter Five: Equipment

The equipment section begins with an explanation of a Wealth mechanic, which replaces the need to track specific expenditures - and thus reduce bookkeeping.

I tend to gloss over for most laundry lists of equipment, and past the Wealth mechanics I gave this section a cursory glance, making note that various sorts of weapons/armor/vehicles/etc. might be available, and there's a fair selection with varying degrees of explanation. More on this a little later.

Chapter Six: Playing the Game

The mechanics of the game are more explicitly gone over, starting with the differentiation of Physical and Social Actions.

Combat makes up the majority of this section, and much like the rest of True20 there are slight differences between it and regular d20. For example, all attack rolls are made with a Dex modifier to one's Combat bonus, while Ranged attacks are opposed by a Dex modifier while Melee is opposed by a Str modifier.

Damage works in a "death spiral" where failed Toughness saves result in either penalties to further Toughness saves or penalties to all actions, depending on the difference in Toughness save roll vs. damage dealt. This allows for a mechanical expression of one being wounded which I personally like.

Chapter Seven: Narrating the Game

Brief advice is given as to how to cover situations that aren't otherwise covered by the rules already presented, how to dole out Conviction points as well as how to advance characters.

Chapter Eight: Adversaries

The better part of the adversaries presented is largely geared toward fantasy gaming; I'll get that out of the way right now. Descriptions of various creature types are given for custom-making one's own beasties, along with a handful of premade critters.

Chapter Ten: Fantasy Adventures

The specifics of building a fantasy geared campaign are gone through rather thoroughly in this chapter, with both options for both players and GMs alike. Fantasy specific roles, particular styles of fantasy settings and more specific equipment is gone into in quite a bit more detail than previously examined early in the book.

Chapter Eleven: Space Adventures

Further delineation of what the system can be geared for regarding particular sorts of sci-fi/future settings are presented, giving many options for Skills, Feats and Equipment. Vehicular design is covered as well as possible adventure ideas, universe building and environments that would otherwise not be taken into account (i.e., vacuum).

Chapter Twelve: Horror Adventures

Different styles of horror campaigns are discussed as well as new Roles presented for horror-specific styles of games. Sanity mechanics, as well as possible insanities that can be developed, are also gone into in some detail.

Chapter Thirteen: Modern Adventures

What I was really hoping to get out of this chapter - modern specific Feats - are not present; instead there is a fair amount of the chapter dedicated to how to obtain "hard to get" items via the Black Market. There is also a slight update of equipment, but on the whole this chapter seemed to have the least amount of usable information in it out of all the Adventure chapters.

Appendix: D20 System Conversion

The particulars of converting over all that D&D 3.X material you might have are gone over quite thoroughly for being covered by two whole pages.

Overall

I really liked True20 and can't wait to implement this in any number of game ideas I have been kicking around in my head. The setting specific information is - for the most part - superb and allows for quite a bit of focus that you might not otherwise think of while either adapting or creating a setting.

I would make some slight changes to the mechanics to suit my personal tastes, and the way that the mechanics are presented - with the "whys" of the way that many of them have been implemented - make those sorts of changes very easy to do.

I wasn't too fond of the way that the text was broken up; it seemed like most of the book had large black chunks that were fairly distracting. I will also say that the art wasn't spectacular, but it got the point across.

I'd also like to point out that while I can see it handling a number of genres particularly well, I wouldn't necessarily say it could be used to run everything. The Powers section makes a note that superhero games can be done, but given some of the alterations that would need to be taken into account I think that I would just use True20's close blood relative, Mutants & Masterminds instead.

There's a wealth of support for the system online as well as Quick Start Rules ([...]) for further consideration.


True20 Expert's Handbook
True20 Expert's Handbook
by Joseph Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.95
18 used & new from $12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sourcebook for Experts and other Roles alike, February 20, 2009
True20 Expert's Handbook was the first of three supplemental books to be used in conjunction with the True20 core rules, and it shows to a certain extent with regard to how the book was approached from a "rules addition" perspective.

The Book Itself

True20 Expert's Handbook is a 96 page paperback printed in black and white. A quick flip through shows much of every page devoted to text explaining how the game works, interspersed with B&W art. I might as well get this out of the way now - I DO NOT LIKE Kent Burles art, which is unfortunate for me as he is the sole interior artist.

The print is a shade on the small side, but that allows for that much more information to be presented.

Chapter Breakdown

Chapter One: Expert Creation

The chapter begins with a number of possible sample backgrounds to help develop Expert characters, as well as three new modified Expert Role variants: Intellectual, Specialist and Survivor. These all seem to be reasonable variants yet none of them particularly screamed out to me for a given character concept, despite less than subtle hints; the art that accompanies the Intellectual seems to indicate that it would be well suited for a Sherlock Holmes-style Expert, while that for Survivor an Indiana Jones-style Expert.

Chapter Two: Skills

As the bread and butter of the Expert is having a large number of Skills, this chapter gives further ideas of how to best make use of said Skills by presenting additional ideas for Checks as well as Challenges.

The additional material seems geared toward any number of genres, which makes this particularly useful for not just Expert characters.

Chapter Three: Feats

Chapter Three isn't fooling around: there are over 150 new Feats, both General and Expert specific. Most of the new Feats are geared toward a particular sort of character concept, and making that concept work the best way possible. For example, say you want your character to be able to influence large groups of people. There are 15 Feats that fit the bill, and most of them serve as prereqs for the more powerful ones - in addition to other Skill reqs.

The Feat listing is somewhat daunting during an initial page through and really requires one to sift through the summary chart to get an idea of what sorts of capabilities have been opened up for your character.

Chapter Four: Optional Rules

The title of this chapter seems somewhat strange given how much of True20 seems to be devoted to "optional rules," but it does present other ways of looking at the system which may better fit a particular campaign style/genre.

"Skill Groups" allows for a little more genericized purchasing of Skill Ranks; "Complex Skill Checks" are along the lines of the Skill Challenges from D&D 4E, where multiple successes are required to accomplish various tasks; and "Skills As Progressions" provides for a method of advancing Skills without having to muck about with the use of Skill Points.

Chapter Five: Equipment

The equipment section provides for a great deal of tools-of-the-trade for those looking to work around the edges - and perhaps outside entirely - of the law. Most of it could be adapted to any number of campaign styles/genres.

Chapter Six: Allies and Adversaries

The chapter is divided largely into two sections, with the opening section on how to create Organizations for use in a given campaign world, with the amount of detail as to the various "whys" of system choice that I have come to expect from True20.

The second division of the chapter is largely devoted to the creation, use and ways to disable/get around Traps.

Overall

The inclusion of the Feats make this an invaluable resource for both players and GMs alike. As with the True20 core rules, not everything presented is designed or intended to work together, so some care is needed when introducing this to an ongoing campaign or when taken into consideration for a new campaign.


Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (Revelation Space)
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (Revelation Space)
by Alastair Reynolds
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
87 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent hard sci-fi, February 17, 2009
This book is actually two novellas: "Diamond Dogs" being one and "Turquoise Days" being the other.

Alastair Reynolds was recommended to me by a friend when I asked what good stuff anyone had been reading, and after reading these two works I believe I understand why I was directed towards Reynolds.

There are elements of both stories that I imagine show up to much greater extent in the ongoing series that Reynolds has created - notably the existence of the Blood Spire in "Diamond Dogs" and the ongoing examination of the Pattern Jugglers in "Turquoise Days."

I enjoyed "Diamond Dogs" more, mostly because it seemed to border on psychological horror, but both stories were very well crafted 'hard' sci-fi.


Just After Sunset: Stories
Just After Sunset: Stories
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
348 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was SO hoping for more than this was, February 17, 2009
I've read a lot of Stephen King's works, mostly when I was in high school. His earlier works were able to scare the bejeepers out of me (hello, "Survivor Type"!). I've always felt that King was most comfortable when writing short stories, and the previous collections I have come to reread over and over, savoring the feelings they invoke.

Stephen King has truly become a master craftsman with regard to the technical aspects of telling stories, which is what makes it all the more painful to report that his most recent collection just...isn't...very...good.
Don't get me wrong, the stories are all very well executed from a technical perspective.

They just aren't particularly engaging.

I started to get worried when I had figured out what was going on about fifteen paragraphs into the first story, and by the time I got through "Stationary Bike" I was seriously considering just stopping reading and returning the book to the library.

I will say that "Graduation Afternoon" got me thinking that all might not be lost - despite the fact that it seemed that the threat wasn't all that threatening anymore; it really would have chilled me had it been written during the Cold War.

And then I read "N.," which read like Cthulhu-fanfic. BAD Cthulhu-fanfic at that.

As I was finishing the book up, I realized that I liked "A Very Tight Place" a lot more when it was called "The Ledge" and appeared in Night Shift.

I guess my biggest problems were the realization that nothing really bad was going to happen to the main characters of stories like "The Gingerbread Girl," "Stationary Bike" and the previously mentioned "A Very Tight Place," because King doesn't seem capable of really putting it to his "good" characters anymore. They all ride off happy into the sunset, never REALLY experiencing the horrors that could have befallen them.

I stopped reading King's novels some time ago because they just weren't able to deliver the sorts of punch I had come to expect from him; it saddens me to think that his short stories may now have suffered the same fate.
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True20 Adept's Handbook
True20 Adept's Handbook
by Matthew E. Kaiser
Edition: Paperback
26 used & new from $21.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent material for Adepts, but only Adepts, February 17, 2009
The Book Itself

True20 Adept's Handbook is a 96 page paperback printed in black and white. A quick flip through shows much of every page devoted to text explaining how the game works, interspersed with B&W art.

The print is a shade on the small side, but that allows for that much more information to be presented.

Chapter Breakdown

Chapter One: Adept Creation

The chapter begins with a number of possible sample backgrounds to help develop Adept characters, a dozen new Core Abilities for use with Adepts as well as three new modified Adept Role variants: Scholar, Superhero and Templar. The addition of the Superhero Role seems very forced to me as True20 isn't particularly well set up to deal with power levels required to run a really flexible supers game.

The remainder of the chapter is dedicated to explaining different possible "Supernatural Philosophies," a.k.a. what flavor of magic/powers you might want your Adept to use. Nearly 30 Philosophies presented allow for quite a bit of customization for your particular campaign, giving different Adepts a slightly different bent if necessary.

Chapter Two: Supernatural Skills

The Skills presented are few (three are covered) but well gone over, and are really only applicable to a particular subset of Adepts - those that might make use of prophecies.

Chapter Three: Supernatural Feats

The Feats presented are numerous (over three dozen) and all Adept specific, making this chapter less useful for other Roles. Only about half of the Feats are designed for combat, making them attractive for characters to shine in other areas.

Chapter Four: New Supernatural Powers

This chapter seems to have taken a page from the Expert's Handbook with its selection of new Feats - over 100 new Powers are presented for use. Much like the previous chapter, there is a good mix of combat and non-combat Powers.

The end of the chapter also has a section describing "Advanced Powers," which goes into alternate uses for the Powers presented in the core book, which again provides the Adept with more versatility.

The chapter wraps up with a brief bit about how to work "Psychic Grappling," where two characters vie for mental control.

Chapter Five: Supernatural Items

Creation and use of single use, multiple use and permanent magical items is covered in some depth in this chapter, giving options for both player and GM alike as to how they might want to have imbued items work in a given campaign.

Chapter Six: Optional Rules

As with the Expert's Handbook, I am once again somewhat puzzled that "Optional Rules" would be a separate chapter when the entirety of the book is pretty much "optional rules," but here are found some ideas and mechanics that didn't seem closely related enough to anything previously discussed. It starts with a method of providing for ritual magic and what sorts of things can factor into said rituals.

"Supernatural Places of Power" and "Summoning" are covered next, with each being touched on enough to provide information for both player and GM alike.

This is followed by "Runecasting," which I found to be very reminiscent of the Diabolism from Palladium Fantasy RPG, particularly with the inclusion of "actual" runes to be used. I've always liked it when games go to the trouble of providing the art/glyphs associated with this sort of magic, and "Runecasting" covers nearly three dozen distinct runes.

Overall

This book is an outstanding resource for both players and GMs alike, providing a wealth of information as to how to run particular types of magic/flavors of powers for a given game. Unlike the Expert's Handbook, which had Feats and uses for Skills for Roles other than just the Expert class, the book is solely intended for Adept Role characters - so should your game/campaign not be as focused on that it might not provide you with as much use as you would otherwise like. As with the True20 core rules, not everything presented is designed or intended to work together, so some care is needed when introducing this to an ongoing campaign or when taken into consideration for a new campaign.

I don't know if I would use even half of what is presented in the book as the better part of it doesn't seem to be up my alley, but having the option is always welcome.

Chapter Breakdown

Chapter One: Adept Creation

The chapter begins with a number of possible sample backgrounds to help develop Adept characters, a dozen new Core Abilities for use with Adepts as well as three new modified Adept Role variants: Scholar, Superhero and Templar. The addition of the Superhero Role seems very forced to me as True20 isn't particularly well set up to deal with power levels required to run a really flexible supers game.

The remainder of the chapter is dedicated to explaining different possible "Supernatural Philosophies," a.k.a. what flavor of magic/powers you might want your Adept to use. Nearly 30 Philosophies presented allow for quite a bit of customization for your particular campaign, giving different Adepts a slightly different bent if necessary.

Chapter Two: Supernatural Skills

The Skills presented are few (three are covered) but well gone over, and are really only applicable to a particular subset of Adepts - those that might make use of prophecies.

Chapter Three: Supernatural Feats

The Feats presented are numerous (over three dozen) and all Adept specific, making this chapter less useful for other Roles. Only about half of the Feats are designed for combat, making them attractive for characters to shine in other areas.

Chapter Four: New Supernatural Powers

This chapter seems to have taken a page from the Expert's Handbook with its selection of new Feats - over 100 new Powers are presented for use. Much like the previous chapter, there is a good mix of combat and non-combat Powers.

The end of the chapter also has a section describing "Advanced Powers," which goes into alternate uses for the Powers presented in the core book, which again provides the Adept with more versatility.

The chapter wraps up with a brief bit about how to work "Psychic Grappling," where two characters vie for mental control.

Chapter Five: Supernatural Items

Creation and use of single use, multiple use and permanent magical items is covered in some depth in this chapter, giving options for both player and GM alike as to how they might want to have imbued items work in a given campaign.

Chapter Six: Optional Rules

As with the Expert's Handbook, I am once again somewhat puzzled that "Optional Rules" would be a separate chapter when the entirety of the book is pretty much "optional rules," but here are found some ideas and mechanics that didn't seem closely related enough to anything previously discussed. It starts with a method of providing for ritual magic and what sorts of things can factor into said rituals.

"Supernatural Places of Power" and "Summoning" are covered next, with each being touched on enough to provide information for both player and GM alike.

This is followed by "Runecasting," which I found to be very reminiscent of the Diabolism from Palladium Fantasy RPG, particularly with the inclusion of "actual" runes to be used. I've always liked it when games go to the trouble of providing the art/glyphs associated with this sort of magic, and "Runecasting" covers nearly three dozen distinct runes.

Overall

This book is an outstanding resource for both players and GMs alike, providing a wealth of information as to how to run particular types of magic/flavors of powers for a given game. Unlike the Expert's Handbook, which had Feats and uses for Skills for Roles other than just the Expert class, the book is solely intended for Adept Role characters - so should your game/campaign not be as focused on that it might not provide you with as much use as you would otherwise like. As with the True20 core rules, not everything presented is designed or intended to work together, so some care is needed when introducing this to an ongoing campaign or when taken into consideration for a new campaign.

I don't know if I would use even half of what is presented in the book as the better part of it doesn't seem to be up my alley, but having the option is always welcome.


Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)
by Gregory Maguire
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
462 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't be bothered to finish, February 17, 2009
I had high hopes for this book, as I had heard so many good things about it. However, having gotten 100 pages into it (just about a quarter of the way through, as it was 406 long) and having absolutely no connection to any of the characters or concepts presented, I decided that I would rather spend my time reading something that I would actually enjoy.

I can't entirely put my finger on what turned me off about the book, but I will say that the first portion - detailing the birth and infancy of Elphalba - honestly bored me to tears. It is well written to be sure, it just... wasn't... very... interesting.

Perhaps it's because I really don't care too much for the Wizard of Oz in general - I somewhat doubt this, as the first two chunks of book that I read only tangentially dealt with anything I remember from the book/movie that inspired this.


Bloodline: A Repairman Jack Novel
Bloodline: A Repairman Jack Novel
by F. Paul Wilson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
64 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is there a "meh" rating?, November 24, 2008
I've read all the RJ novels and this one was by far my least favorite. While it shared may of the same problems as HARBINGERS (mostly a meandering supernatural plotline and little-to-no "fixin'"), this novel had the added "bonus" of just sort of...stopping.

There is no real wrapping up of the story, just sort of an intermission until it picks up in the next book; while this isn't the first time I have seen this tactic used for series-style novels, it never fails to bother the heck out of me.

It's getting harder and harder for me to care about Jack's exploits, mostly because they are getting more and more unbelievable. There is a particular part of the book that really seemed to be jumping the shark (a particular novelist of the "Jake Fixx" persuasion; deliver me from writer's in-jokes...), and all in all I wished that it had been closer to the earlier Jack books - more fixin', less supernatural-related nonsense.
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