The idea was interesting, but I felt that the implementation was really bad. It could just be cultural thing for me. The source material was basicallyThe idea was interesting, but I felt that the implementation was really bad. It could just be cultural thing for me. The source material was basically inspired by Oriental martial arts, fighting styles, movies, and anime. I found the whole implementation to be really cheesy and mostly nonsensical.
In summary, the sourcebook is about providing melee replacements - so goodbye fighter, ranger, and paladin. If you use this sourcebook, there's zero reasons to play with the original core warrior classes, as the three new classes (crusader, swordsage, and warblade) are way more powerful - unless of course, you happen to want to play a blackguard or you like tracking or archery. The three new classes are play like front-line wizards - you can generally cast one "spell" (manoeuvre) once per encounter. In fact, as they scale up in power, you probably don't need rogues or wizards much, since some manoeuvres can do sneak attacks and AoE attacks.
The sourcebook requires significant investment as it adds a lot of new rules. The majority of the content aside are all geared towards giving the new classes more options. I dislike the new classes primarily because the more they're described felt more like prestige classes to me - all crusaders fight for a religion, all swordsages are scholarly fighter seeking for a "truth", and all warblades are glory-seekers. There are nine martial disciplines (hence, nine swords), but they are very oddly restricted to certain classes - why? This is one of the nonsensical things. If we're talking about oriental inspiration, this sourcebook serves up a lot of categorisations and restrictions just for the sake of it. Sure, the DM could change it, but I'm reviewing based on what's offered.
Backstory-wise, the Temple of the Nine Swords is fine, I just found the whole internal conflict to be very contrived. The so-called legendary founder? Such a character can't be built using the mechanics presented in this book, due to the limits on the number of manoeuvres you can learn. Throw in how he managed to accumulate nine swords of such varied backgrounds that they just destroy any plot cohesiveness. And the prestige classes? They're ok within the context of this book, except for the so-called "Master of Nine" - that class is more like taking specialist levels in several schools of magic than being a "master" of several disciplines. The flavouring is just so wrong.
But that's enough ranting. I mainly dislike the sourcebook because I found the flavouring and imagery to be really bad. Then I dislike the power level of the new mechanics, they're not just slightly powerful - they're very powerful. I'm probably not the target demographic for this book, seeing how cheesy and over-the-top some of them content are. Perhaps this sourcebook was not meant to be serious, and more a fun thing; but it's not for me....more
A pretty decent supplement. It highlights the concepts of what makes horror interesting and alluring, and how to make it fun. But it doesn't seem to gA pretty decent supplement. It highlights the concepts of what makes horror interesting and alluring, and how to make it fun. But it doesn't seem to go quite deep enough, as what it seems to offer is make analogies to old and modern media sources. So if you liked horror enough to get this supplement, chances are, you already know what makes horror tick.
The sourcebook introduces a new taint mechanic and variant rules regarding fear. The new mechanic basically makes "taint" an actual thing to be tracked, thus something tangible to put pressure on the players. It also introduces two new core classes and several prestige classes that relate to the ideas in the sourcebook. I only found them mildly interesting. The new core archivist felt odd with its use of divine magic and the core dread necromancer felt unnecessary. I did find the new spells, items, and creatures to be very interesting. Other than these, there's a new demigod, a small section on dreams, and a smattering of sample adventures....more
This wins my award of worst gamebook I've ever read.
Story: Divided into three weak parts - the titular caverns, a journey sequence, then a survival seThis wins my award of worst gamebook I've ever read.
Story: Divided into three weak parts - the titular caverns, a journey sequence, then a survival sequence. For all the vaunted evil-ness of the snow witch and her minions, no one seems to mind you just strolling in and start taking things out room by room. You obviously don't expect character development in a gamebook, but the reason the author gave as to why you went after the titular snow witch is just plain ridiculous - nothing more because the author wants you to. Same thing with the motivation for part 2 - you just have to, never mind the logic of it. The motivation for part 3 is survival, so that's fine, except for how you're supposed to go about it - it makes absolutely no sense.
(view spoiler)[The titular caverns just happens to be primary setting of the first part. The titular snow witch? Just a checkpoint for the first part. For all evil-ness that's attributed to her and her minions, she's nothing more than just than just two encounters, the 2nd one being really tacked on. And speaking of tacky, I got the feeling that the editor or publisher rejected the gamebook initially because it was submitted with just part 1. So parts 2 and 3 were appended just to pad it out. The later parts were just as horrible. Why travel with two complete strangers to their hometowns instead of just back to what you were doing before? And the steps to cure yourself of the so-called Death Spell just borders on stupidity. No wonder only one other person in the world had survived it - and that person just happens to be living in a nearby cave where you need begin with the weird "healing" steps. (hide spoiler)]
Gamebook: Very "One True Path". There are many items that you must obtain to get past certain encounters - miss them and you die. And it's very easy to die. In fact, the chances of winning this gamebook honestly is very low. The game mechanics of needing to roll higher than your opponent just to damage them a little means you need several lucky streaks to get through the numerous fights thrown your way. The enemies are very tough, especially right at the start. This is the first gamebook I've died in the first fight I got into. You really must roll max skill, max stamina, and max luck to even have a reasonable chance of reaching the end.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Not that I've run a war-themed campaign before, but I've certainly read enough to realise that this sourcebook is pretty handy if one is going to do iNot that I've run a war-themed campaign before, but I've certainly read enough to realise that this sourcebook is pretty handy if one is going to do it.
It starts off with providing and identifying the differences between traditional campaigns with a war/military campaign, and the roles the PCs could play. It includes rules and guidelines for establishing army composition, setting up interesting battlefields, tracking the flow of events in a battle, and keeping score on well the PCs for assisting the war effort. Meaty stuff. Then it throws in some sample encounters, the typical stuff you'd see in movies - rescue, escort, hit-and-run, etc.
On the mechanics side of things, it includes stats on siege engines, how to handle large groups of NPCs, rules on rallying, morale, and commander auras, and touching a bits on promotions and rewards for the players.
For the players, some useful spells for battle situations, new skill applications and a few 5-level prestige classes that are more generic roles than classes (the exception being the War Weaver, which I found intriguing), but they're easy to adapt to add flavour into. There's also a new "teamwork benefit" mechanic to reflect the military training aspect of a war-based campaign.
The appendix rounds up the sourcebook by fleshing out the typical compositions and stat blocks for entire armies of the different core races plus drow, orcs, goblinoids, lizardfolk, and giants.
All in all, it feels like a sourcebook that's quite essential to getting a war campaign just right. ...more
Volume 2 starts off with Dwalimor Omen's crew entering a new story arc involving a winged girl. The issues provide more backstory for Omen himself andVolume 2 starts off with Dwalimor Omen's crew entering a new story arc involving a winged girl. The issues provide more backstory for Omen himself and the halfling, plus a little budding relationship for paladin. It flows onto a Spelljammer plotline, which I'm not too familiar with, as Spelljammer was a bit too fantastic for me, so I never really liked the setting. The spelljammer parts were a bit dull, and the bits where they encounter local inhabitants were poorly done - I just can't imagine any random inhabitant of Krynn (yes, Krynn is featured) or Toril to not react much to spacefarers, or a random Realms inhabitant to know what an "asteroid" is. So Omen's crew was fine, the Spelljammer parts, not so much. Plus the artwork seems pretty poor here - seemed very inconsistent in quality....more
Volume 1 is actually a compilation of two stories, 4 issues each. Great nostalgia factor if you grew up with the Forgotten Realms as the fantasy worldVolume 1 is actually a compilation of two stories, 4 issues each. Great nostalgia factor if you grew up with the Forgotten Realms as the fantasy world.
The first story is "The Hand of Vaprak", where we're introducing to a band of adventurers led by a wizard, and together with two new recruits, managed to put an end to the evil artifact. What was awesome about this story is the appearance of Alias and Dragonbait (shown on some of the covers). Brings back memories. Elminster was in the shadows, as usual.
The second story is "The Dragonreach Saga", where the bands visit to Elminster got them tangled into a very serious matter, but taken in a rather light-hearted manner. Not quite sure how I liked this one; it builds upon the characters from the first story, but the way the main villain ((view spoiler)[a humanoid of unknown race, who wields a powerful artifact capable of decapitating dragons, and who summoned and rode the tarrasque (hide spoiler)]) was dispatched felt rather callous given the subject material. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more