Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game is a fire hose of inspiration aimed directly at your brain. It's a massive collection of non-player characters for the fantasy, science fiction, and modern genres designed to make the game master's life easier.
The Unknown Regions is the final sourcebook for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars: Saga Edition Role-Playing Game. The book serves as a placeholder for all the books left unpublished, and promises to carry players to the unexplored corners of the Star Wars galaxy. It does this by venturing into The Unknown Regions to explore what fans know -- the Chiss, the Rakata and the Sorcerers of Rhand -- and plenty that they don't.
The Unknown Regions details eight worlds created just for the book, introduces a planet generator that game masters can use to make their own, and debuts creature generation rules to populate them. Since Scouts are essential to exploring these brave new worlds, they get a variety of feats and talents, and because no final frontier should be without its dangerous challenges, the book re-envisions "Hazards" as Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition-style threats that require a combination of brawn and skill to defeat. The end result is a tool kit that gives players everything they need to continue their adventures beyond the last book in the Star Wars Saga Editions line.
Skill challenges were the best thing to emerge from our Dungeons Dragons 4th Edition mini-campaign, and when we started playing Star Wars: Saga Edition, we pieced together our own version of the rules. We based them on 4E's examples, the skill DCs established in Scum and Villainy, and personal experience. The end result created some of the most memorable moments in our campaign, including the heroes' disastrous attempt to escape a proto-star nebula.
Galaxy of Intrigue formalizes these ad hoc rules by creating a Skill Challenge system for Saga Edition that improves the 4E iteration in every way. The source book introduces new feat and talent options for skillful characters, nine new species (including the Bith, Defel and Neimodian), an entire world dedicated to intrigue, eight mini-adventures, and the "The Perfect Storm" campaign.
The Inner Sea World Guide is Paizo's third iteration of its Golarion campaign guide. The first was released when D&D 3.5 was still Wizard of the Coast's flagship fantasy game; the second came with the release of Paizo's own 3.5-derived Pathfinder RPG. The latest iteration reflects the growing maturity of the Pathfinder product line. Within its pages players will find that redundant material – such as class write-ups now included in the Pathfinder core rulebook – removed in favor of extended write-ups on the world itself.
And what a world it is. While evoking spirit of World of Greyhawk, Golarion excels at tweaking standard fantasy formula. Within its pages – including 64 pages of new content – you'll find Cheliax, a kingdom that embraced devil worship in order to save its empire, as well as Galt, a country that threw off its imperial Cheliax masters and descended into a never-ending bloodthirsty revolution. There are the mountaintop citadels constructed after the dwarves completed their quest for the sky, and a frozen kingdom ruled by the daughters of Baba Yaga. It's a setting that feels familiar and new at the same time, and like Pathfinder itself, it's a worthy successor to the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.
The sun-blasted, magic-scarred campaign setting of Dark Sun is unlike any other published for Dungeons & Dragons. It inverts or eliminates many of the core concepts of D&D: arcane power is rare, psionic abilities are rampant; Halflings are cannibals, dwarves are slaves, and elves are opportunistic, lying traders.
The world itself – known as Athas -- is danger incarnate, with civilization reduced to a handful of city states separated by vast, dangerous stretches of desert populated by mutated monsters. The shear alienness Dark Sun demanded a monster manual, and Wizards of the Coast delivered.
The Dark Sun Creature Catalog is 143 pages of monsters, threats, and non-player characters that game masters can use to fill the setting's ruined expanses and rare oases, as well as new rules for converting existing monsters to the setting. The book largely succeeds in its mission, providing game masters with the unexpected horrors that are its trademark and failing only to provide the run-of-the-mill city encounters that would make urban adventuring easier to run.
As a thirty-something game master, I find myself torn. As a storyteller I love hand-crafting plots and storylines for my weekly role-playing game sessions. But as a husband and dad with a full-time job, extracurricular activities, and household chores to deal with, finding the time to tell those stories is challenge.
My Three-Page Manifesto helps keep my prep times reasonable, but I can still find myself scrambling for ideas the night before the game. That's why I've found the mini adventures in Star Wars: Scum and Villainy and the random adventure creation tables in The Day After Ragnarok so useful, and why I was happy to see Gnome Stew's Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters arrive in my inbox.
Scum and Villainy is an essential source book for those running a Star Wars: Saga Edition game on the fringes of galactic society, whether that’s trolling for would-be passengers in a Mos Eisley cantina, smuggling spice out of Kessel, or engaging in piracy against the Galactic Empire.
The book does for crime what the earlier Starships of the Galaxy did for starships and space combat, providing scoundrels, bounty hunters and outright criminals with a host of new game rules and options for running a campaign that interacts with the galaxy’s dark underbelly.
Harrowing Halls is a Dungeon Tiles set for Dungeons & Dragons that takes the long-running line to new heights. That's because they're not just dungeon tiles ... they're three dimensional dungeon tiles that can be used to build a staircase, raised platforms, tables, and pedastals, all of which player characters can jump on, leap off of and generally use to their advantage.
It makes a big difference on many fronts, starting with prep time. I got a review copy of Harrowing Halls a few months ago, but since I run a weekly Star Wars game I haven't had much call for a rustic hall/dungeon. That changed when I decided to run an epic showdown with a Jedi master in a temple on a stormwracked backwater world.
WotC’s supplement,Primal Power: Options for Barbarians, Druids, Shamans, and Wardens presents expanded choices for each of the classes that draw power from the Primal Power Source.
It offers new possibilities for these classes in the same way that the books Divine Power, Arcane Power, andMartial Powerdid for their respective classes.
When I ran my 4E D&D playtest campaign, I decided to make it larger than life. That meant going planer. The churning unpredictability of the planes, the potential for exotic locations, the alienness of its inhabitants calls to my imagination. The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos, which details 4E's churning elemental wastes, is just my cup of tea. Or it would be if it had retained more of the 3E cosmology. As is it's more like a cup of chia; worth a sip, but not as satisfying as I'd hoped.
Arthur Dent beverage metaphors aside, The Plane Below is a 159-page source book that builds on the foundation laid down by last year's The Manual of the Planes. The Elemental Chaos is 4th Edition's catch-all planar setting for D&D's traditional elemental planes, as well as the Nine Hells, the Abyss, and the rest of the rest of the D&D cosmology that isn't the Astral Plane or Ravenloft.