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Mr Ghostface (United Kingdom)

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Cityscape (Dungeons & Dragons)
Cityscape (Dungeons & Dragons)
by C a Suleiman
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good for Dungeon Masters, no use to Players., 8 Mar 2007
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OK, the bottom line... I could see giving this book a higher rating if it had been billed as a DM's guide to citybuilding. Instead, it writes itself off as being for both players and dungeon masters, and it isn't.

Firstly, the book is too spread out because there just wasn't a lot of material for players and most of that section is fluffed up. There are less than 20 feats, less than 15 spells, and there are only three prestige classes. This is a pretty weak showing, and it could be redeemed if the organizations in the book included rules based on PHB II's affiliation system, but they don't.

Basically, this book is a waste of time for players, unless you're playing a rogue, in which case there is one prestige class you might like. Unless you're in a campaign that demands you own a book in order to use it, borrow this from a friend and take a look.

As for the DM material, I was very excited about how this book would turn out. The authors both worked on Heroes of Horror, and that book was a decent resource for all kinds of adventure building. For the most part, this book satisfied my hopes, though I have a complaint that knocked this down from four stars. The material is far too specific; instead of rules for generating sages, we have specific sages with specific characters that the PCs can apply to for knowledge. Instead of really good city building rules, the book is full of sample cities. Want to make an organization? You can try, but they'd prefer you to just use one of the included pre-made organizations. It's overdone with the examples for me, another sign of weaker supplements from Wizards, who fill out a book with such things to reach the 160 page count.

Where I had been hoping for a book to expand on the scant city building rules of the DMG, this book just showed how some designers put them to use. I would've preferred a lot more insight into thought process, design, etc. Additionally, the monster section is too short.

All in all, as this book is not really for players, just DMs, it's missing something. If you only DM, then maybe take my review more positively. But mostly, it's middle of the road time from Wizards.

Complete Mage: A Player's Guide to All Things Arcane (Dungeons & Dragons)
Complete Mage: A Player's Guide to All Things Arcane (Dungeons & Dragons)
by Skip Williams
Edition: Hardcover

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of interesting bits... above average supplement., 8 Mar 2007
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OK, here we go... Complete Mage is full of interesting tidbits from the feats and prestige classes to the items and spells. Like the first four "Complete" books it contains ways of adding something, in this case Arcane Magic, to many different kinds of characters. Unlike earlier books, though, there are no additional base classes, which disappointed me a little.

The first section of the book offers advice on mages and how to play them. Some of the advice is interesting and useful, but some of it is very weak. If you are new to playing mages I would speak with a more experienced player before blinding following something you read here (it's a sad fact these days that there are many players out there who know how D&D works best a lot better than many of the people at Wizards of the Coast).

Next up are the feats. This section offers some really fun things, but by far the biggest innovation is the concept of "reserve" feats. These feats add staying power to arcanists. These feats grant an arcane spellcaster the ability to use at-will supernatural abilities as long as they have a spell of a certain type memorized. The higher level the spell the more powerful the ability is. So the spellcaster can use the ability granted by the feat through an adventuring day, until he is forced to cast the spell that powers it, and even then they will get a small bonus from the feat. Essentially, casters get to have their cake and eat it, too, with these feats. For those games where casters are always running out of spells these feats are great! There are plenty of other feats too, including one that speeds up metamagic use for spontaneous casters, one that enables casting while holding a weapon in hand, some Wu Jen specific feats, and more. The heritage feats, especially the Fey Heritage feats, are worth a mention. They aren't as well developed as the Dragon Heritage feats are now, but there is some good stuff here. Overall, this section is really well done and I wouldn't hesitate to use anything from it in my campaign.

Next are prestige classes. Of special note for fans of the Warlock class introduced in the Complete Arcane, there are three Warlock prestige classes and all three have me itching to play them. Outside of the Items section this is the one that contains the most problems. Right off the bat is the Abjurant Champion, a powerful class that is destined to be used in ways that the creators undoubtedly did not intend. It was obviously designed to be used by Fighters who had dipped into Wizard, but is far more useful for pure Wizards since it's too easy to qualify for. Full BAB, d10 HD, full casting, and some powerful special abilities in five levels makes it a no brainer for a mage who sees melee from time to time. The Lyric Theurge also has major problems. First off we already have a PrC for the "spellcasting Bard", namely the Sublime Chord from the Complete Arcane, and the Lyric Theurge fairs poorly in comparison to it. But then when you read the flavour text it quickly becomes apparent that this was originally a dual progression Bard/other arcane caster PrC when first written but that it was changed too quickly at some point in development. To me, this PrC is a clear sign that Wizards of the Coast is trying to publish too fast these days. Under-developed or over-developed, it doesn't work.

The next section contains fun new spells for Hexblades, Wu Jen, and more in addition to Wizards and Sorcerers. It also contains some nifty new Warlock invocations. Mostly these are all good though a few are potentially abuseable. In particular the Sorcerer spells for casting multiple spells must be examined with care by a DM before letting them into a game.

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after I got finished looking at the items in the book. While as a player I would love to have most of them I think that DMs should be very cautious of many of them. In particular, several items seemed woefully inexpensive considering what they do. For example "Heward's Fortifying Bedroll" lets wizards get away with one hour of sleep instead of eight for only 3000 gp. What caster wouldn't want one? The Spellguard Rings for 4000 gp don't seem out of line for what they were intended - keeping a teammate from being toasted by your fireball! - but open up huge abuse potential with spells like Evard's Black Tentacles or even Antimagic Field. Use this section with care!

The remainder of the book is mostly fluff and, for once, not too bad at all. Interesting ideas, mostly for DMs but some for players as well, can be found here. The idea of some of the magical locations intrigued me.

Overall I gave this book three stars out of five mostly because I will be able to use so much of the book in my games. However, I would have given it four stars if it had been given some more editing and playtesting. Flaws like the Lyric Theurge and some of the abuseable items made me seriously consider dropping it further but were balanced out by some of the things that I really really liked. It's worth a look.

Player's Handbook: Bk. 2 (Dungeons & Dragons)
Player's Handbook: Bk. 2 (Dungeons & Dragons)
by David Noonan
Edition: Hardcover

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One of Wizards' worst supplements..., 1 Mar 2007
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OK... I was very, very disappointed with this book. Wizards of the Coast is rapidly descending into being a nothing more than a repackaging/recycling company, one with a fraction of the creativity and vision of its former self and TSR before it. This book is a shining example of WotC's worst traits, which is disappointing because some of their material of the last couple of years is pretty strong.

For the entrance fee, we get four new classes, only two of which are mildly interesting (the knight has been around for so long and in so many forms that its inclusion here seems pointless). And both of the interesting classes, the duskblade and beguiler, are little more than rogue/sorceror and fighter/sorceror mixes respectively, just with the ability to cast an incredibly minor list of spells while wearing armour. Gee, thanks. One could do better with some creativity and, dare I say it, a smattering of house rules.

Chapter 2, "Expanded Classes", is particularly poor. Here we have 37 pages of fluff. None of us needs to pay money for a book that will teach how a Cleric of Pelor should reference his deity in every sentence he utters, nor do we need such a book to tell us what obvious "themes" I can pick to round out the personality of my character.

Chapters 3 and 4 are new spells and feats. Usual fare here.

Wizards are really struggling for new angles to pitch more supplements from, and the only way they can do it is to strip the imagination of out role-playing my extrapolating every possible detail they can think of. If they carry on like that much longer, they might as well play the game for us as well.

Chapter 7 is all about "affiliations", adventuring groups/clans that your PC may hail from. David Noonan should be embarassed. You get stuff like "the Bloodfist Tribe," which is - you guessed it - a wandering half-orc band. There are the Elves of the High Forest, Dragon Island, dwarves who mine deep into the mountain, gnomes who like to make stuff, etc. Again, I return to my gripe about creativity. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of fantasy roleplaying and D&D can create better groups than these to populate a campaign world. They're obviously just included here as filler.

Chapter 8 is more filler, and is basically filled with rules on how to switch your character over from one class to another, for all those indecisive players out there. This section could have been released online as an option for those who want to pursue it.

Overall, what I'm left with thinking about this book is, why was it necessary to publish something called "Player's Handbook 2"? The few useful bits, the new feats, spells, and rules governing teamwork benefits, should have been included in the FIRST Player's Handbook the first time around. Draw your own conclusions...

Wizards of the Coast's D&D 3.5 rules are really a wonder of marketing and I tip my hat to them. They now have approximately 700(!) prestige classes and god knows how many races, spells, monsters, feats and examples of how to make your bard talk scattered throughout dozens of books. There are many fans of D&D that will buy all the books just to see what the new stuff is. My advice to avoid this book, because it's an insult to intelligent gamers like ourselves.

Dungeonscape (Dungeons & Dragons Supplement)
Dungeonscape (Dungeons & Dragons Supplement)
by Jason Bulmahn
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful and thoughtful but ultimately superfluous accessory..., 1 Mar 2007
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OK... Dungeonscape is another one of the environment series supplements, but this time it's for an environment that everyone is used to. This obviously poses a bit of a challenge, but authors Bulmahn and Burlew have approached this with some creativity and ingenuity. Nevertheless, this book isn't necessary.

The Dungeon Master's Guide contains a fine guide to building dungeons, and if you're looking to get started, you don't need this book at all. This is an advanced dungeon architecture guide, with creative ideas like walls made of souls, etc. From my perspective, as an experienced DM with highly demanding players, this book will be very useful for putting them into new situations. The ideas presented are mostly very good and the book offers information on their proper implementation. There is also advice on using existing dungeon features from the DMG more effectively, which, again, is only really useful for experienced DMs.

The player-oriented material is fairly good. The Factotum is a fun class and has great synergy with many of the new options in Complete Scoundrel, although that accessory is very disappointing. It presents a "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" class. It can do just about anything that another class can do, but only for a very short period of time. This has the unexpected effect, however, of making Factotum excellent for players who want to qualify quickly for a prestige class that requires many disparate skill points.

This book does not contain much in the way of monsters, but there are TONS and TONS of new traps, and a very interesting prestige class meant only for NPCs that lets you create the ultimate dungeon super-villain, magically aware of his entire dungeon domain and always a step ahead of the players.

I recommend this book if you want to give your character an edge in the dungeon environment (but not many other places), if you're interested in the Factotum class, or if you're a DM looking to bust out of the old stone and mud dungeon into something a little more creative. Otherwise, it's completely missable. It's not as bad as some recent supplements (Complete Scoundrel and Weapons of Legacy leap to mind) but you might get the feeling reinforced that Wizards of the Coast are well and truly wringing every last ounce out of D&D.

Complete Scoundrel (Dungeons & Dragons)
Complete Scoundrel (Dungeons & Dragons)
by Mike McArtor
Edition: Hardcover

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing addition to the "Complete" series..., 28 Feb 2007
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OK... When I buy a book called Complete Scoundrel, I expect a tome filled with things to make your Rogue, or Bard, a better criminal or thug. When I opened the cover of the book, I was surprised by how little this book resembled my expectations. The very first chapter of this book is dedicated to listing almost every mythic scoundrel from Conan to Han Solo! I was hoping to find different ways to make a successful scoundrel character, and there were a few hints and suggestions, for 11 pages out of a total of 157. The book gets worse from there. The next 47 pages are dedicated to Prestige classes.

It is an indication of fuzzy thinking, and a drive to publish more material, without giving adequate thought to the quality of the content. Scoundrels are made at the beginning, not in the middle. To think that the writers of this book believe that prestige classes are more important than the basics of character-building is outragious. While some of the prestige classes were indeed interesting, most of them were targetted on warrior or melee characters. The feats and skill tricks section, another 33 pages, seems to dedicate a huge amount of space to Luck related feats. I understand that luck must play a part of every rogue's career, but for a player class to revolve around re-rolling bad dice throws is ludicrous! How does being lucky make one a scoundrel?(!) Honestly, the only section of this book I found truly helpful was the equipment chapter. When I take this book as a whole, I have to say it was obviously rushed into production, before anyone gave thought to what should be between the covers. I found better ideas for making a scoundrel in Complete Adventurer than I did in this inferior accessory.

It has been growing more obvious that WotC has lost sight of game play in favour of publishing an ever-more confusing array of source books. I've been playing D&D, as a player and a DM, since the days of Gary Gygax, and I've seen a lot of changes in the game over the years. WotC is making the same mistake that TSR made in the 2nd Edition: too many rules and source books, and not enough emphasis on role-playing. I wish you happy gaming, but can't recommend this book.

Dungeons & Dragons - The Complete Animated Series [DVD]
Dungeons & Dragons - The Complete Animated Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Gibbs
Price: £29.99

119 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There was never a "first" episode and there was no "last" epsiode!!!, 13 Jan 2007
Sorry if I sound annoyed, but I'm sick of people reviewing this item and knocking off stars simply because they have inaccurate recollections of the show(!).

Now, of course there was a first episode and a final episode. But there was NEVER an introductory episode and nor was there EVER a final episode with the kids getting home once and for all. If any of those people complaining had watched the extras on the DVD or bothered to do five minutes of research on the net, they would be well aware that the script of the final episode, "Requiem", was never made into a show.

Episode 1, The Night of No Tomorrow, is pretty much an introduction anyway. We don't go through the formulaic introductions that many shows would. We get the gist of what happened to the kids in the opening credits, and then the episode begins with them in the same location before they go on their first adventure.

This box set features all 27 episodes that were ever made of this great series. They are very well transfered, although the opening credits of season two have been replaced with those of season one. The menus on the DVDs are fairly poor, but this is unimportant, especially when you compare the British release with the American. The US release has a poorer transfer, and most of the background music in all of series two has been replaced because of licensing rights with Disney! Awful. We should be counting our blessings.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2012 3:16 PM BST

Monster Manual: 3.5 (Dungeons & Dragons)
Monster Manual: 3.5 (Dungeons & Dragons)
by Skip Williams
Edition: Leather Bound

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Monster Manual special edition completes a beautiful set of the core books., 10 Dec 2006
The third and, so far, final book in the special edition series.

I love this book for the same reason I love the leatherbound Special edition Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide. If you love the look and feel of a leather book, as I do, then you will love this book. It is true there is nothing new but the errata (which is available online) but then this means this book is one you buy purely by choice, a choice any book lover would be happy to make.

It is durable, able to take the beating gaming books inevitably suffer when carried around in book bags to far-off gaming tables to game. I have used my leatherbound PHB and DMG in many a session by now and they look and feel in just about as good condition as when they were new, with none of the scuff marks one gets on the regular plastic-laminated hardcover gaming books.

As could have been predicted, it has a green cloth bookmark, to contrast nicely with the red cloth bookmark in the PHB and the blue cloth bookmark in the DMG. It is a nice touch to use different colors, and a much-needed one because when the books are piled together, the black leather covers look similar, so the bookmarks set them apart.

Wizards must have heard some of the (many) complaints about the pages sticking together at the ends from the gilted edges, because they do not stuck at all with the Monster Manual, with the exception of a few pages very slightly at toward the binding, but those quickly separate, much like the PHB and DMG did. I must say I was slightly disappointed that I was not the one who separated them like I did with the prior two books (letting me know I was the first person to open it), but that is rather silly, since either way, once you use the book, they will be, and the books all come shrinkwrapped in plastic, so no one would be thumbing through it before me in any case.

All in all, this is a well constructed book that I expect to see heavy usage around my gaming table. I hope Wizards makes other leatherbound versions of key heavily referenced books, like the Spell Compendium, because they are a joy to have and use.

Baywatch: The Complete Series 2 [DVD]
Baywatch: The Complete Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Hasselhoff

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very "quiet" season., 18 Oct 2006
This was the first season produced following Baywatch's first cancellation. The rights were bought by the original three creators and David Hasselhoff, and the budgets were smaller. This resulted in a smaller cast, and overall and very forgettable season. The drama is still fairly serious, although weaker than Season 1, but the show also lacks the glamour that both blessed and cursed subsequent seasons. The only notable holdovers from Season 1 are Hasselhoff, Erika Eleniak and Billy Warlock, with Monte Markham and Greg Alan Williams also returning. There are few noteworthy episodes, although the acting standards are held higher than any of the following seasons with the presence of Markham and Richard Jaekel (who played a similar character in the original pilot show).

Beware, if you are considering buying DVDs from, where they are cheaper, that this season is packaged as Season 1 in the US, because the real Season 1 is not distributed by the same studio over there (it goes way back to first season syndication rules, I believe).

Baywatch - Series 1 [DVD]
Baywatch - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Hasselhoff
Price: £24.99

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best season of the entire show., 18 Oct 2006
This review is from: Baywatch - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Baywatch, as many people will be aware, was cancelled after its first season. I find it highly ironic that the stories are far stronger and the acting of a much higher standard in the first season than any of the others. Of course, the show hit its popular peak in the early to mid-90s when Pamela Anderson was on board (season three onwards), and the show went through three or four seasons of cast stability. However, the show did at the same time simultaneously descend into strict formula. The slo-mo montages became a staple feature of most episodes and Pamela Anderson was almost always the first person on screen if she was in a particular show. Still, it was always fun. But the first season was far more structured, the drama always a bit more convincing than later on. This might be, in part, due to the production problems pushing the writers and producers to make a stronger show. Compare the death of Jill near the end of the season to how the "death" of Mitch was handled in season ten.

It's interesting to note that Season 1, which was in part produced by ITV in the UK, also had different distribution deals in order to get it sold, which has resulted in it being unavailable on DVD in the US. If you are thinking of buying the cheaper season sets available on, do be aware that because Season 1 is not available, they have renumbered (!) the subsequent seasons, so that what is actually Season 2 is being released as Season 1. I ask you! So do be careful.

Another thing, and I am really hoping they kept it for the DVD, is that Season 1 had a different theme song. "Save Me" was performed by Peter Cetera and is, in my opinion, a much better song than "I'm Always Here" which was used on the rest of the show. I know when the first season has been repeated in syndication, it has often had the opening credit sequence edited down and redubbed with the second song, presumably to give more consistency to the show. I am hoping they have left the opening and closing credits intact in their original forms on the UK DVD release.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2012 10:28 PM BST

Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow and True Name Magic (Dungeons & Dragons Supplement)
Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow and True Name Magic (Dungeons & Dragons Supplement)
by Matthew Sernett
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just about the best magic supplement of the last 5 years!, 8 Oct 2006
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Hi there. Tome of Magic may very well be the most significant supplement to come along for Dungeons & Dragons in many years. This book isn't about just giving gamers new spell-casting classes and spells, this is about a whole new way of looking at magic. Specifically, it introduces three new and very different forms of magic designed to enhance the fantasy flavour of any campaign.

The first new form of magic introduces Pact Magic. The power behind Pact Magic are beings...mortals, demons, angels, and even deities, who have passed on from their native planes and are now existing in a sort of void, where their wills were too strong to move onto their final resting place. The new class called binders can make pacts with these beings to gain powers and abilities, merging their own souls with those of the "vestiges" of these powerful beings. Binders have a D8 for their hit points and can, through experience, make pacts with more than one of these vestiges at a time. Like a magic user, the Binder can change which vestiges they make pacts with on a daily basis, as they see fit and the abilities only last as long as the pact lasts, each time requiring a check to see if the entity can exert their will on the player. Binders do not have to pray for these spells and abilities or memorize them from a book as wizards do...they simply have them once the pact is entered into. Examples of these vestiges include Acerak the lich, whose name long-time players will recall from the module Tomb of Horrors. And then there is Focalor, Prince of Tears who may have been a powerful angel and can grant powers such as an aura of sadness and a lightning strike.

The Binder class includes, as do all of the new magic types, five prestige classes which include the powerful Anima-Mage and the Witch Slayers. In addition the Pact Magic section includes 19 new feats, new magic items, monsters, pact magic organizations, as well as mini-adventures designed for the class that can easily be incorporated into any campaign.

Next up is Shadow Magic. Shadow Magic users call upon and control the magic derived from the elemental plane of shadow, and while the introduction to the class is a bit muddled it is quite potent, made up of primarily humans and half-elves. The class can be any alignment but should typically be evil or neutral with good aligned characters being very rare. These D6 classes learn what is called "mysteries" as opposed to spells but think of them as essentially the same thing. Like wizards, they progress over various levels with the number of new mysteries they can learn and utilize and a table of progression is included. In all, the book includes 68 Shadow Magic spells/mysteries such as the potent Shadow Surge spell which will kill the target if they fail their saving throw and immediately bring them back to life under the control of the caster for one round per level, at the end of which the target dies for good. It also includes five prestige classes and, again, new monsters, magic items, and feats.

Last, and I think most intriguing, is Truename Magic. We've often heard over the years about true names of powerful beings such as Demons and Devils and how learning their truename can give a person control over the being. The book takes this several steps further, offering truename as a sort of quasi-language. Virtually everything has a true name whether it is a living being or an inanimate object. Further more, words and phrases have truenames, things like "sharpen", "Destroy" or "Vanish". Once you learn the truenames you can gain mastery over them and it essentially becomes magic. But this is no easy task. As pointed out in the book, truenames, especially those of powerful creatures like demons, are very long and have their unique inflections in the pronunciation. Only a correctly pronounced truename will work to grant the Truename Mage power. For this reason, he or she spends much time pouring over tomes of lore to research and learn these truenames. Thus, rather than spells they learn "utterances" which are basically vocal only spells. The Tome of Magic includes approximately 100 of these utterances/spells. As with the other new classes, this section has five new prestige classes, and also new feats, magic items and monsters. Again, a few short mini-adventures are included. Each section also covers information for both the player and DM about how to play these new classes and how they interact with other classes.

So, after all my gushing, why only four stars? Well, if the book has weaknesses they are the same ones that seems to be plaguing very many of the Wizards books of the last couple of years: poor editing, no appendices, or even an index in the back to help sort all this new information. It would have been nice to have the experience and spell progression tables all in one section. That said, Tome of Magic is a fantastic new supplement, and a big one at 288 pages, that is sure to impress D&D fans.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2009 4:46 PM BST

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