Review: The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten

The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Bastard CoverAuthor:  Daniel J. Bishop
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Art: Michael Scotta, Gary Dupuis
Price: PDF $3.00 – at RPGNow / at /
Pages: 13 (incl. cover)

The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten is the fourth release in the Campaign Elements series from Purple Duck Games. The Campaign Elements series helps fulfill the ‘Quest for It’ element of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. The products in this series are perfect for use as divine quests, patron quests, or simply when you as a judge have a DCC RPG character that needs or wants to accomplish some task.

This fourth release is written by Daniel Bishop, just as the previous three releases were. The cover illustration was done by Michael Scotta and interior art was done by Michael and Gary Dupuis. The PDF is 13 pages long including the cover and page of OGL information on the last page. An area map is included, as well as encounter descriptions for each location of the ruined Gryffon Keep. Numerous new monsters are included, either to be used for this adventure, or “borrowed” by creative judges for other areas of their campaign. Several ways to introduce this area and Sir Amoral himself are also in the adventure, along with the ‘Squeezing it Dry’ section for getting the absolute most from this scenario.

The primary component to this adventure is the ghost of a once powerful warrior. This warrior knew many fighting techniques that could prove advantageous to other warriors or those interested in pursuing a special fighting technique. In life Sir Amoral was stingy with this knowledge, but in the afterlife he seeks to pass this on to others – if they are worthy.

Sir Amoral knows seven special fighting techniques that one can learn. To be worthy one must pass one of his seven deadly tests. Even succeeding at that means the one seeking to be taught this technique must accept a quest on Sir Amoral’s behalf.

The scenario includes the mechanics for these seven bits of knowledge and seven new creatures Sir Amoral can summon to determine if one is worthy of instruction.

The Review

The scenario rests in a specific area, the ruined Gryffon Keep. Most likely the characters will seek the place out in search of Sir Amoral to teach them new weapon techniques. A creative judge can come up with any number of ways to learn of Sir Amoral, but the most attractive appears to be the characters having met someone who had received training on their adventures. This person could be an ally or rival depending on which fits your DCC campaign the best.

There are some additional hooks noted for drawing characters to the area. And several opportunities exist to expand the adventure site to further work the area into an ongoing campaign.

The seven techniques provide mechanics to do things like increase initiative, increase armor class, introduce a form of attacks of opportunity, and similar mechanics. There is a sidebar that states the seven deadly skills are not supposed to analogous to feats. I still have a hard time shaking the feeling that they feel a little like feats to me.

They are certainly much harder to obtain than a feat in d20 systems and it does come with a price to learn them. But as I read them I feel like they will get recorded on my character sheet in a very similar manner as feats. My initial reaction is lukewarm to these mechanics.

I think when I use this scenario in play I would still have the seven deadly skills, but possibly swap in something of my own creation. I think. We will see what happens when the time comes though. In either case – a neat scenario and idea and certainly workable even if I tweak it from how originally written.

The scenario does include 7+ new monsters. Many of these are for use with the seven trials, but a judge could easily “borrow” some of these for use anywhere in a campaign.

The location itself is also interesting and has at least one area that just calls for a judge to expand on it a bit and really work it into their campaign.

Once again this release in the Campaign Elements series has lots of useful parts in it and ideas to “borrow” for an established DCC RPG campaign. Used in whole or in part this is another strong release from Purple Duck Games and Daniel Bishop. It is a welcome addition to my collection.

En Route Encounters

En Route IIt has been a while since I ran a good sandbox fantasy campaign.  I like the adventure paths and enjoy going through them, but they are linear and it can be tough to really have the feeling of go anywhere and try to do anything.  Even though I haven’t run that kind of campaign lately I still hold on to and seek out books that aid in that kind of campaign.  There are not a lot out there that are easily adaptable and portable into different fantasy games and worlds.  This week I am going to look at three books of the En Route series by Atlas Games for their Penumbra line.  These books offer a variety of different encounters that can easily be dropped into almost any fantasy campaign.

The En Route series of books boasts some impressive writers.  We have author credits by Keith Baker, Brannon Hollingsworth, Chris Aylott, Spike Jones, Justin Achilli, and many other familiar names.  The first two are written for 3e and the third is written for 3.5 ed D&D using the OGL, but these are very mechanics light products making them very easy to port into any other fantasy game.  Since the books are older it should be easy to find them relatively cheap.  A quick look on shows they can be purchased for around $5 a piece.

En Route IIThe En Route series are books featuring simple encounters designed to be used when the PCs are traveling from one place to another.  Some are for on the road, in a city, a tavern, in a forest, on the sea, and other places.  There is a variety of different locations with some unusual ones like in a goblin encampment or whenever the party teleports.  Each encounter is a bit more in depth with great plot ideas that a DM can carry forward.  This is one of the great things I like about the books, the encounters can be throw away encounters the PCs run into and then can forget about.  But I like encounters that might originally feel like that but a DM can cleverly use something established there and showcase it later in the campaign.  I think it helps tie different adventures together and helps the players remember what is happening in the campaign because they know something that is happening now can come back and help or hinder them in the future.

Between the three books there are approximately 50 different encounters.  Each covers about four to eight pages.  There are simple ones like the Door.  It is designed for second level characters and while wandering a road they encounter signs that say something like “Are you Worthy?” and “Do you think you have what it takes?”.  Ahead off to the side of the road is a small trail that leads to a door in the side of a rock facing covered in mystical runes and animal carvings.  The door is locked and trapped.  What lies behind the door will be remembered by the party.

En Route IIIThere is the Haunting Place, which says it is for level 10 but I would reduce it to lower level.  The magic of a level 10 party could easily make this encounter too easy or they could kill the creature they are trying to help.  It is built on the idea of a summoned monster trying to get home but there is a communication problem between it and anyone it tries to get to help it.  It can really set the scene for a spooky encounter as the players are trying to figure out exactly what is going on.

Many of the encounters are not combat encounters.  Some use illusions or tricks to set up situations that are not quite apparent to the players at first. One of my favorites is the Glass House by Keith Baker.  It is a simple situation in which a magical experiment inside in Inn turns the place and everyone inside invisible.  The PCs are assumed to be outside and witness the Inn and everyone vanish.  There is a mystery of what happened and how to undo it all but it sets up for some fun and different kind of encounter.

The En Route series is perfect for DMs looking for something a little extra to help out a gaming session or serve as a small distraction.  None of them will take a full session or even a half of session but all of them could if the DM wants to put in a little work to add additional levels of complexity.  I like these for a sandbox campaign as it would be easy to just have the books handy and grab them when needed.  There are a few that could be used in Adventure Paths to just put in something different and not directly connected to the AP.  Most of them are for lower level groups and any of these that say they are for higher ones like level 10 and up I would pay close attention to, as most of them I feel would work better for lower level characters.  There is a lot of creativity and cleverness in these books coming from authors who were not as well-known as they are today.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Review: Ultimate Campaign – Part 4

Ultimate Campaign CoverThank you all for following me through the review of this mighty new addition to the core Pathfinder books by Paizo. It has been quite the journey. There have been tears, laughter, pain, sorrow, joy but it is now coming to a close with a review of the final chapter, Chapter 4 Kingdoms and War.

This chapter is paradoxically the smallest chapter in page size (around 50 pages) but dominates the table of contents at the start of the book. The Table of contents is a two column affair on one page and this chapter takes up practically all of the second column. Noting this I actually thought it was going to be a piecemeal affair that would irritate me to a large degree so with a cautious eye I moved into the Chapter and began to read.

Just before I give you any detail about the chapter I am going to have to warn you about something. I am declaring that I don’t really like the idea of a campaign that centers around kingdom building. It takes a certain type of GM and player to want to play this style of game. I see it too much as an administrative affair with a lot of extra work involved. I also see that in reality an adventurer would not be able to rule a kingdom unless it were a tribe of nomads or the like. Ruling a kingdom comes with responsibility and Kings and Queens do not get to simply wander off when they want. With that off my chest let us move back to some detail of the actual book.


The chapter starts with a focus on building a kingdom from scratch but is unusually organized. You read an introduction about how they want to approach the chapter and then they suggest if this is the first time that you have read the chapter, go forward and read a section on building a settlement before going back and reading from that point onward. I found this extremely weird. I did as they suggested and the chapter certainly flowed correctly by doing this but the question has to be asked. Why? Why not just put the section on Settlements at that point in the chapter. There is no major problem it causes on the second read through and I would prefer to read it in that order all the time. This is just a complete oddity of the whole book and the question distracted me from a lot of detail.

Ultimate Campaign ThroneThe kingdom building rules borrow a lot of ideas from Chapter 3 and Chapter 2 to build sort of a mini game that is Kingdoms. You follow a set Kingdom turn that is broken up into four phases representing a month of game time: upkeep, edict, income, and event. The upkeep is where you balance the kingdom’s resources; edicts allow you to declare actions for the coming month that could be good or bad; income is where you get to fill the treasury up again; and event is out of your control and covers events that you may have to deal with directly.

You get to build the kingdom up from scratch if you follow the default manner and you build your kingdom up in hexes as opposed to squares on a map grid. This follows the way the exploration is handled in the third chapter and I am wondering if these decisions have been influenced by the development of the Pathfinder MMO by Goblinworks. The blogs detailing the making of the Pathfinder MMO from last year are beginning to look eerily similar to the way they treat building a kingdom in here. The question is did the development of this book affect the computer game or did what the computer gamers want to do influence the book? Does it even matter?

The rest of kingdom building is similar to building a structure that is covered in chapter 2 and you have a bunch of buildings etc. that you can build up in settlements or expand your territory and the like. There are a lot of detailed rules (and then an optional rules section) that add a great deal of complexity to the system that kind of made me wish I was sleeping rather than reading a bunch more rules for an already rules heavy setting. But, and there is a but, I got through it and have to say I did not hate the section. In fact I thought it was quite novel and that it would probably be very valuable to the accountants of this world who like to role play as well. Here they can build their own kingdoms and exert control over vassals whilst balancing resources. All in all it is well contained and offers a good level of detail to this style of play. Don’t get me wrong, it is a section of the book I will likely never look at again but it is worth looking at if that is what you like.

Mass Battles

The next section was on war or mass battles in Pathfinder. I was actually quite keen to see what they had done with this as I have run mass battles in the game before but I had scripted them rather than used any type of mechanic. That said I have seen plenty of systems try to approach this subject and fail horribly by making systems that just fail completely to be intuitive and easy to use.

Paizo have come through with the goods on this system though. I started to read it and thought that it would be good if they did it just by providing something similar to the current combat system with a little less complexity (an army can’t grapple another army!) and that is exactly what they have provided. The system is intuitive as it uses concepts that are similar to the current roll 1d20 + a bonus with a target number of an AC system that currently exists.

They have added a nice usable morale system and given a good description of what this means to the unit. In fact this system is quite good that I may be using that in the one on one combats at times when I think creatures might make a run for it. Things like the commander can affect these rolls or give additional benefits. The commander gives certain boons to their army and will know certain tactics based on their level in Profession(Soldier) which I thought was also a great way of giving value to skills that players do not often take.

Finally, they cover loads of special abilities that the army made be able to use (what if you have a unit of regenerating trolls etc) and it just works. They teach you how to create a unit based on existing skill levels and then also give you a horde of army units that was a really good addition I had not overly expected. I have to say that the mass battles section of this chapter gets two big thumbs up from me and it will be something I refer to again!

The Book Overall

Now I have the content covered I want to say a few more things about this book. First and foremost it is very well presented, but I am pretty sure I don’t need to mention that. Paizo always make their books look remarkable with great artwork and layout. One thing that was a nice addition for this book was that they added a lot of forms for you to use with their system. If you look over the last month of posts you will find how I mention there is a lot more bookwork to be maintained with a lot of this material and they have done their best to give you the tools that you need to use.

Amiri ThroneIs this book the killer I thought it would be? Well, that is hard to answer as it is not the book I thought it would be. It is a book that helps with building a campaign but it is also a book that does not tell you how to build a campaign. It gives you a lot of systems that can assist you with looking at a lot of different things that some of your players might like to do. With the exception of the first chapter which is something I would like us all to adapt as GM’s (getting our players to get into background that is) the rest of the systems will work for some and not others so you need to pick and choose as you go.

I will say that this book has surprised me though. There are a lot of rules in here for you to read and go over. It is a long read too although it is only set at 250 pages or so the material can get a bit dry so you have to put away all the distractions to read some sections. But I am totally glad I did. This is an exceptional valuable sourcebook to me and will see a lot of use as I continue to pursue my craft as a GM. Some sections will never be used again but on a whole that is OK. You cannot please all of the people all of the time and we all have different focuses in game which is what this book represents.

So, to an overall score, considering everything I have read and fully understanding what this book is about. With its minor flaws and overall view I can’t give this book any less than five out of five castles overall. This is a great book to have in your collection. Save up your pennies and get yourself a copy!

One final footnote, just as I exit the long winded review mode I got an email telling me that my copy of Mythic Adventures is on its way to me. It is the next sourcebook for the core rules and is something that I have been long looking forward to! So there are likely to be more reviews in the near future! But until then, keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  39 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

Review: Denizens of Avadnu

Denizens of Avadnu coverPotential is a powerful word.  It is used all the time and seen in the people around us.  We get a hint at what might be and we hope to see the potential realized.  Many times it isn’t and we are left wondering “what if?”  I can’t imagine what it must be like for companies that impress with their first gaming product but are never able to live up to the potential the gamers see who get their first book.  This week I’m looking at one of the best and most creative monster books for D&D/ Pathfinder I have seen.  I like it better than Privateer Press’ Monsternomicon, Necromancer Game’s Tome of Horrors, and Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary.  All three of those books are well worth owning and writing about. I am going with a lesser known book by a company that doesn’t seem to exist anymore and needs to be seen by more gamers instead of the more popular selections.

Denizens of Avadnu is a monster book written for 3.5 D&D.  It is the first product Inner Circle produced for their Violet Dawn setting.  While a great book I think it was a mistake to make the monster book first and not the setting first.  There was a PDF release of epic level monsters and I think some information on unique races to the world but I don’t recall they ever published the full setting.  The book was also a bit expensive I felt at the time.  It was priced at $40 for a 225 page full color hardcover book.  On their gaming site you can order the book for just $10.  You might be able to find it cheaper than that, but I do like giving money to the publishers especially small press ones like them.

Flipping through the book I am still amazed at the full color art and the overall look in this book.  It is beautifully done and still one of the best looking monster books.  That is just the beginning as the creativity is off the charts.  The monsters are all original and feel very different.  There is nothing in here that seems like a goblin or orc with a few changes.  There are no new devils or demons or other monsters like those that just build off of other creatures.  Each creature is given its own page.  This allows for a lot of good information and that is needed with these creatures.  The normal description and combat entries are there, but there is also information for adventure ideas using the creatures and specific information of the creature in their setting of Avandu.  Going through and just reading the Avandu sections really makes me want to see a full setting that brings together all of the  great little details offered in this book.

One of my favorite creatures in here is called the Dread Spire.  It is an aquatic creature rarely seen in places not thousands of feet below the surface of the oceans.  It resembles a huge tower with tentacles coming out from it and it is different and weird.  The book also has animals and vermin, though each is also given a unique twist.  I like that it introduces creatures that are non-Earth native but treats them like normal animals.

Denizens of Avandu is one of those books that even after almost ten years I find myself keeping my copy though multiple book purges and finding ways to use it.  It is great for those D&D players that think they have seen everything.  There are some really odd and cool creatures in here and being able to show the players amazing art of the creatures makes them that much better.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Review: Ultimate Campaign – Part 3

Ultimate Campaign CoverI thank you for bearing with me through the review of this book. There is just so much material packed into the 253 pages this book offers that I would have turned myself inside out trying to fit it all into one review. So we are moving on to Chapter 3 which is innocuously called Campaign Systems. So lets pull it apart in the penultimate (pun intended) review of this book.

Campaign Systems. The title of the chapter. I wrote many posts about campaign systems on my own blog and this one so I thought I had finally reached what I truly hoped this book contained. How to build a campaign! Excellent, the secrets of Paizo laid bare so I too can create my masterpiece adventure path. I was devastated to find I was completely wrong. This chapter had no insight on how to build your campaign from the ground up.

Of course that is because they have done it all before. In the core book and the Game Master Guide there is plenty of advice they give on these very topics. Perhaps not to the depth everyone likes but that is where I can fill in the gaps by writing blogs about different styles. In the chapter they cover numerous systems (meaning extra rules) to cover various concepts in game and how to manage them as a player and a GM.

There is good, bad, and ugly in this chapter. I was smiling with glee at stuff that surprised me. I wore a frown of confusion where I came across material that I think does not need rules (that is putting rules on it reduced role playing and increased complexity). Then I was left dumbfounded in several sections of the chapter wondering why on Golarion they had even bothered. I think a few of these systems really do depend on the style of game you play, although some of them would be much better suited to other games for sure.

The chapter starts with a fresh take on alignment. Well fresh may be a little generous, but it gives an alternative system that allows for shades of alignment. So you could be Lawful Neutral but closer to the Neutral end of Lawful and the Good side of Neutral. This introduces a mechanic which allows your alignment to shift with actions and time. Sometimes with repercussions, other times without. I rarely point to alignment in game (though I do where class powers depend on it) so this system is very unlikely to be used in my campaign. It is, on the other hand, a good basis for a system of alignment that may help people new to the game to understand it. They do try to redefine the alignments in a clearer manner also in this section but I do not think they are any clearer than the entries in the Core Rulebook.

Then they broke out bargaining which literally gave me a headache. Do not get me wrong, I love mercantile campaigns (I run one in Traveller) but Pathfinder? Really? The algorithms (solutions to the problem) are unrealistic, simplified and frustrating. It is very hard to follow the flow and I can see this coming to very little use. I really did wonder why they had included this section when the rules that exist with bluff, diplomacy, sense motive and the like all function quite well in this regard anyway.

Ultimate Campaign FollowersThen the next section about companions surprised me. Surprised me in a major way so much that I broke one of my personal rules and wrote on my own blog about this section prior to writing about it here. You can read that blog here if you want, but the following pretty much covers it. The GM should control some of the player linked companions! I have always played games where if you had a familiar, animal companion, cohort, followers then you dealt with them as the player. This system really turned that on its head for me. They suggest that animal companions, followers, and to some degree cohorts should all be controlled at some level by the GM. Reading through this section it made sense why and I was grinning from ear to ear that something had surprised me.

The section also went over followers (obtained through the Leadership feat) and what they meant in game which is something I never really fathomed. It was a brief description but it gave me a point of reference as I realised that a follower was kind of like a contact that had interest in you. There was some discussion on my blog that this should really be a role playing consequence but I see this as OK. if you get Leadership and you want to have an NPC that has been following your career in a town then why not. I do agree though that this style of contact should be limited to the Leadership feat.

Which lead me to the first real ugly section of the book. The next section was Contacts. I did not read this until after my blog discussions were over and I really wish I had. This section just completely devalues the Leadership feat that they had been describing by introducing a system for contacts. Come on! That is what the role playing is for if you do not want to take the Leadership feat. Why should there be a system that allows for a similar structure than what was just described. And if you aren’t going to describe how to make a campaign from scratch in the “Ultimate Campaign” guide because you have done that before why go over relationships with NPC’s when it is done in at least three books I can think of. This section seems counterintuitive, introduces a lot of bookkeeping to the GM and I just do not understand why it was even included.

You are probably beginning to realise there is a lot of “campaign systems” in this chapter and there are, fifteen to be exact. There are a couple more I want to talk to but I will sum the others that I am not going into too much detail with here. The Exploration, Honor, Lineage, Relationships, Retirement and Young Characters sections were entertaining and I may take some concepts from them into game. The Taxation and Investment sections should never have been included. Tax the characters? We are considering tax and percentage return in a fantasy system… No thank you. So that leaves me three sections to talk about. So I end on a positive note I am going to go from worst to best…

Retraining. There is a chapter here about how your character can retrain any change they have made in their character as long as you have time and gold. This is the most ludicrous waste of space of a system I have ever read. Six levels in and you realise you did not like becoming a necromancer? that is OK, take a holiday and become an evoker instead! Taken a Wisdom upgrade and realised Dex would have been a better choice, no problem! This is just a nightmare. In reality this is normally dealt with with a discussion between the player and the GM. Player: Look, I was a bit rushed last time I levelled and I think I should have taken x feat, can I change it? GM: Sure, you haven’t used the one you took in any major way, no problem. This entire idea of retraining devalues things like spell replacement in Sorceror (and other classes) and is like saying to a player not to worry about considering what you want to play because you can always change it later with a nominal sum of gold and a bit of in game time. If you can’t tell, this section really annoyed me.

Reputation and Fame. If all you have are the core books then this is likely to have some value for you. I collect Adventure Paths (AP) and also some campaign supplements (especially if they are mentioned in the AP as useful) and so this is about the fourth system I have come across that deals with this concept. And it is also the worst system of the ones that I have looked at. Why do they not just migrate the simplest system they have created and use it? To me it would be something similar to the system contained in the Faction Guide which was simple, transferrable and easy to understand. Seriously Paizo, look at what you have and stop reinventing the wheel time and time again.

Magic Item Creation. I loved the second half of this. The first half talks about how to stop min maxing players from exploiting loopholes in the system that exists and how you really should not alter a lot about the way things work (like rechargeable wands or making an intelligence modifying pair of boots). It made average reading and as I am playing a character that I am considering to use as a creator of magic items it was timely. the absolute best thing about this section was the bit that has potential for creating role playing opportunities! Think to (and try not to groan) Harry Potter where he gets his wand that has a strand of unicorn hair (or something similar in it) to make the wand. That is the cool stuff that you want to get involved in but most times for an item you spend your gold, roll the dice and make your item. In the final part of this system they talk about rare agents you can use to make COOL ROLEPLAYING OPPORTUNITIES WITH!!!!!!! Dragon heartblood! Dire animal brain! Giant squid ink and many more! Oh the possibilities. I seriously disagree with the writers that the cost of such items should be taken out of treasure hordes because you get this object as well but apart from that this is the stuff that I love to see in this book.

So, after sprinkling some stardust on my swords to grant them a light that you can search the dark places of the world with I think I had better sum up. This is the chapter where cracks in the overall coolness of this book begin to show. In summary let us look at these sections and put them where I consider they lay.

The Good: Alignment, Companions, Exploration, Honor, Lineage, Magic Item Creation, Relationships, Retirement, Young Characters.

The Bad: Bargaining, Investment, Taxation.

The Ugly: Contacts, Retraining, Reputation and Fame

The italicized section names are the best example of each category in my opinion. This chapter still has a lot of good in it, in fact more good than bad (or bad and ugly combined!) so it is a worthwhile read. I am majorly disappointed that this section did not take a close look at actually building campaigns from scratch with a modular or building block approach. With one chapter to go (final review next week!) there is little likelihood that it is going to occur. So next week we look at Chapter 4: Kingdoms and War. Until then, Keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  39 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

Review: The Heart of the Wild

The Heart of the Wild coverAfter what seems like seven lifetimes of the elves in waiting, we finally have the next sourcebook for The One Ring RPG by British publishers Cubicle 7, The Heart of The Wild. I have read through my pre-order PDF copy and I think I have an answer to the question, was it worth the wait? The answer is a most resounding yes.

The One Ring: Adventures of the Edge if the Wild, is a charming and remarkably well produced role-playing game penned by Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi, a game that captures the spirit of Tolkien’s literary masterpieces perfectly in its immaculate and breathtaking presentation and its wonderful writing.

Cubicle 7 has published disappointingly little since the release of the core books two years ago. We have had an excellent sourcebook of adventures and a GM screen packaged with a small sourcebook on Lake-town and its environs, both of which easily managed to uphold the lofty standards originally set by the core rulebooks.

It is not until now however, that we fully delve into the meat of Tolkien’s wonderful and meticulously detailed Middle Earth as it has been interpreted by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and Francesco Nepitello.

The Heart if the Wild is a 128-page hardcover setting sourcebook detailing the Vales of Anduin along the Great River and the ancient, tangled forest of Mirkwood to the east. With descriptions of these two expansive areas it covers the ancestral homelands of the elves of Mirkwood, the Woodsmen of Wilderland and the Beornings, all of which are featured as playable cultures in the Adventurers Guide of the core set.

The first two chapters go into evocative and intricate detail about the Vales of Anduin and the forest of Mirkwood respectively. Each of these areas are broken into smaller regions, valleys and mountain ranges with each entry detailing the lay of the land, its inhabitants, wildlife, history, and lore. What strikes me about these descriptions is how they are written in an easy and concise style, yet are still very akin to the prose used in Tolkien’s own descriptions of Middle Earth. New fellowship phases and cultural virtues are interspersed in these descriptions too, and they are all a welcome addition.

Each page bristles with plot hooks and ideas for your adventures, but never do you feel like Wilderland is just a setting created for your company of heroes to chop-up orcs in. No, this feels like a living breathing world of its own, as Middle Earth always felt in the great professor’s original writings. The captivating descriptions could be pulled right from the pages by the Loremaster, as he describes to his players what their adventurers see as they travel the trackless forests and steep valleys of Wilderland.

The area presented is not as broad in scope as many campaign settings, but rather, it has a tight focus on a smaller geographical area that springs to life in its shear level of detail. So faithful is the writing to its source material that you will be amazed by the quality of content that is not actually part of Tolkien’s original lore, and has been specifically crafted for this book. Not that you will be able to tell the difference, unless perhaps you are a true Tolkien buff, or use Wikipedia like me!

The final chapter is a bestiary of creatures mentioned throughout the previous text, each with a lavish illustration and stats to use them in your game. Again we have a very high level of writing present here, and the number of monsters on display rivals that of Loremasters Guide. The book is rounded off with an appendix featuring a four-page map showing all the new locations that have been mentioned thus far, as well as a very extensive index.

It’s worth mentioning the next book forThe One Ring, The Darkening of Mirkwood, is alluded to throughout this book. The Darkening of Mirkwood is to be a campaign outline and timeline that complements the Heart of the Wild. The book states in the introduction that although the Darkening of Mirkwood is not required to use the Heart of the Wild, the Heart of the Wild is required to use the Darkening of Mirkwood.

The art and design of this on display is a true thing of beauty, like all the other products in the line. I do not yet hold a physical hardcover, but the pdf shows the high level of presentation. The cover is graced with a foreboding picture of the great spiders of Mirkwood confronting Radagast the Brown, inked by John Hodgson. Hodgson’s illustrations feature throughout the book and although other artists make contributions, his wonderfully imaginative and distinctive art have become synonymous with this game.

Many art pieces show landscapes of Wilderland that a Loremaster is sure to show his players as they explore on their journeys, and the maps featured include: the halls of the Elven King, the settlements of the Woodman, the house of Beorn and the dread fortress of Dol Gulder. I cannot say enough good things about the excellent combination of cartography and illustrations used to bring the areas to life. The book is worth the cover price for these maps alone!

In all, The Heart of the Wild is one of the best put together setting books I have ever had the pleasure of owning. It is a beautiful and entertaining book to read, that should appeal to any fan of Middle Earth, and I would go as far as to say that this is absolutely essential reading for any Loremaster running The One Ring. My only hope is that when they are done with The Darkening of Mirkwood, Cubicle 7 next gives the same treatment to the lands of Dale, the halls of the Dwarves, and of course, the fertile lands of the Shire.

James Ramage is a 25 year old gamer from Scotland, sailor of the high-seas and advocate of the “new school of gaming.” He started gaming in high school on bread-and-butter Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, back in the pre-revision days when choosing to play a ranger meant being a fighter that could talk to the odd sparrow, and very little else.

He has just started a  new campaign using the 13th Age, and is a strong supporter of Dungeon World, The One Ring RPG, Mouseguard and many other narrative-driven games. 

Review: War Against the Chtorr

Cover War Against ChtorrThis review covers the GURPS book War Against the Chtorr based on the series by David Gerrold. If you enjoy a different kind of Alien Invasion series then I suggest trying them out.  The series starts with A Matter for Men that was published in 1983 and since it is 30 years old can be found cheap in many used books stores and to borrow in local libraries.  This review will contain some spoilers.

Alien invasions are a common theme in much science fiction.  Usually ships come from outer space and Earth is at war.  Rarely is there a different kind of invasion but that is what one gets in the War Against the Chtorr series by David Gerrold.  Gerrold is not a household name among science fiction writers but many more people are familiar with his work then they realize.  His most famous piece of work I would think is the episode Trouble with Tribbles for Star Trek the Original series.  In 1983 he wrote A Matter for Men the first book in the series.  There are now four books in this uncompleted series but they still make for some very good reads.

The blog post though is not a review of an incomplete series.  It is about gaming and thankfully GURPs put out a book called War Against the Chtorr allowing gamers to experience this alien invasion.  Like many GURPS books it is filled with useful information and not bogged down too much by rules.  I am not a fan of the GURPS system but I still own fifty or so of their sourcebooks because they are so easy to use in other systems and many times are more informative then other gaming books on the same topic.

The Alien Invasion is subtle.  They did not arrive with ships or by dropping asteroids on the planet or even by transporting huge monsters to us through an undersea rift.  The characters in the books believe that is started with billions of microscopic particles that came from deep space and arrive on Earth.  There it slowly reproduced and started to create small pockets of an alien ecology.  The first evidence was massively deadly pandemics.  They hit one after another after another and by the time some scientist were figuring things out the population and infrastructure was in serious jeopardy.  That’s when in remote areas of the world people started to notice alien creatures and plants.  The creatures there evolved and changed and produced more different kinds of aliens.  They are not a united front and they do prey on each other.  But they also are devastating to the Earth’s ecology and they are winning.

War Against the Chtorr is one of the easier licensed projects to have a campaign in that mimics the books it is based on.  It would work best if the players are not familiar with the books.  I imagine that won’t be too hard to do.  Then you just have the PCs make discoveries and learn more and more about what is going on just like in the books.  The aliens are really alien and different than what we usually see in science fiction.  It is more than just killing them but trying to understand what is going on and how it all works.  The GURPS book has twenty pages on how to do a campaign with great ideas and ways to make it all work.  Many times license projects just give ways to make characters and some setting information but leave the question of “What do the PCS do?” unanswered.  The book has forty alien plants and animals for the PCs to discover.  Even by the forth book of the series the characters are discovering new types of aliens and understanding older aliens they thought they had figured out.  Pacing of information might be one of the more challenging aspects of this campaign.

Technology in the books is advanced in some ways and others not.  I think one can still keep the feel of the books tech but adapt and incorporate some of today’s high technology that surpasses what we see in the book.  Near future science fiction has always had these types of problems.  The GURPs book does a good job of mapping out the technology from the series.  Some of it like the giant Zeppelins from the fourth book I’d probably change but they did serve a unique purpose for attempting to communicate with some of the hives.

One aspect that makes it much different from other alien invasion stories is the lack of a command structure for the invaders.  They have shown in the books creatures of different intelligence but if there is a true unifying intelligence behind everything we haven’t seen it.  That can happen with uncompleted works so it doesn’t always give the PCs great direction knowing there is one being or something specific to strike against.

For fans of the series the GURPs book is important because it builds off of Gerrold’s notes and includes nuggets of information that have not been published in the series yet.  In 2005 the names of the three final books were announced and I had hoped that we would have a new book released by now but since it has been almost 20 years since the release of book four, A Season for Slaughter, I fear we will never get a completed series.  I’m okay with that as I’m not sure we could get a happy ending that did not feel forced.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Review: The Folk of Osmon

The Folk of Osmon CoverAuthor:  Daniel J. Bishop
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Art: Gary Dupuis, Luigi Castellani
Price: PDF $3.00 – at RPGNow / at /
Pages: 14 (incl. cover)

The Folk of Osmon is the third, and as of this post, the most recent release from Purple Duck Games in the new Campaign Elements line. For those unfamiliar with the Campaign Elements line, it is a new series of products written as short scenarios ready to be dropped into an existing campaign. The scenarios offer possible questing locations, side treks, or possibly a place for a wizard to gather a new spell component. So far each scenario has offered several ideas as to how to work it into a campaign.

The module is written by Daniel Bishop and illustrated by Luigi Castellani. The PDF comes in at 14 pages including the cover and OGL license information at the back. A map of the area is included, as well as a couple of art pieces, one of which is in color. Several new monsters are presented along with a random encounter table for the area. Four scenario possibilities are at the end of the adventure to help a busy judge jumpstart some ideas on how to incorporate The Folk of Osmon in their home campaign.

The Folk of Osmon is intended as a hazard area and is located in a mire. This helps make it relatively easy to use in most campaigns. The four suggestions at the end of the module are helpful for judges having a hard time determining how to introduce their players to the area. For Purple Sorcerer fans, this particular Campaign Element screams to be dropped into the Sunken City area!

Hooks into the scenario range from simply passing through the area, rescuing an NPC from a sacrifice, finding possibly hidden treasure, to encountering a ritual in the swamp, or any number of other possibilities a creative judge can come up with. By aiming to be a hazard area with some interesting traits and occupants the transportability of the adventure has few limits.

The Review

The Campaign Elements series continues to deliver with this third installment. Given I have my currently running campaign based in a city bordered by an expansive swamp to the south, it makes it exceedingly easy to drop this one into my game. So far that has been the case for each of the Campaign Elements series released, I have no trouble thinking of places I can use them.

The adventure includes four more creatures that are apt to be found near the area. One called a Pallid Thorn has an interesting attack that is sure to play with player’s minds. The other creatures easily fit into a swamp environ and will certainly see use in my campaign.

The actual encounter area has five areas within a set of ruins is described. I find the number of areas described enough to give the judge a feel for the area without being enough to side track a party for too long if the area is dropped in as a place the party is just passing through.

The inclusion of four ways to drop this encounter area into your campaign is a nice touch. The hooks here are more than just a one or two liner, but several paragraphs worth of setup to help make the area even more interesting or tied to the characters.

I noted above one of the pieces of art included in the adventure was in color. That was a nice touch for the module! I am used to the black and white pieces in a lot of the Purple Duck Games releases for DCC. It was good to see a little color in there.

The Campaign Elements line continues rolling on strong with this third release. I feel like with a collection of these I can always have something ready to run for my group or something to pull out when they need to quest for something. With an easy to use hazard area, new monsters to drop into any swamp in your campaign, and several suggested hooks to use this area of ruins, The Folk of Osmon is another excellent addition to a judge’s collection.

Review: Ultimate Campaign – Part 2

Ultimate Campaign CoverThis week I have been busily reading the wonders of Chapter 2: Downtime in the Ultimate Campaign Sourcebook. The initial pages had me frowning and also getting rather pleased that I would have something meaty to criticize in the book. To find out if that is the truth when I finished reading the chapter read on!

Chapter 2: Downtime

This chapter looks wholly and solely at a thing called downtime for the players. You have heard about it I am sure. You know, that time where your character is hanging around the town with not a lot to do with themselves. I am being a little facetious here because this type of time in my game is a little bit of a mythical creature. That is, everyone has heard of it but they (the characters) have never seen any.

Of course that is not true of every campaign I have run. In my Earthdawn campaign I ran well over a decade ago it was all about the character motivations. They built a group building in Bartertown and one of the players (a Nethermancer) hollowed out a living Kraken and used it as his “tower” where he spent a lot of time creating lifeforms to serve him. Yes, it was weird but very cool at the same time. Beyond all of that though, most of the reading that I do tells me that the heroes are, well, heroic and that they don’t spend time drinking in a tavern when there are kingdoms to be saved and monsters to be killed.

In essence my own personal group do not get a great deal of time to sit around and talk about the weather with locals so I was so ready to do this with this chapter. The first part of the chapter introduced something that really irks me with sourcebooks. It introduced an economic system that sits on top of the current economic system to make a “Downtime system”. So much added complexity I could see occurring from these new rules. It was meant to model expenditure in doing stuff for the mythical downtime your character gets, including things like goods, labour, influence and magic. I smiled a wry smile at the thoughts of writing this blog. Here was the fatal flaw to this book.

Well, it actually pained me so much that I could not go back to the chapter for a while. I was very disappointed, so I started reading Fate Core again as well as Dungeon World and the latest module from Paizo: The Dragon’s Demand. It was only late in the week that I braved picking up the book again and realized I should have pushed on through.

This chapter adds a load of complexity to what is meant to be quiet time for characters. So why do it? Well, I kept reading, and as I did, I found myself wanting to be a player with a GM that uses this book. I wanted to do some of the stuff located in the chapter. I wanted to buy a tavern and run a thieve’s guild. I wanted to make a castle with a throne room and an altar! This is what this chapter does!

It gives the player options on what they can do in their local settlement. They can set up buildings that become a source of income (as well as a source of drama). Not only buildings though. It also covers how to get a group together that work for you while you are away. And it is in that way that they failed this chapter. Not by providing all this, but by the way they organized the chapter.

Ultimate Campaign DowntimeAt the start of the chapter it details the structure of its economic system it is going to apply and then rather than getting into the seriously cool stuff they talk about what happens while you are all out adventuring. They talk about resource depreciation and economics and snoooooooore… After that they detail managers you can use to run your stuff. They connect the Leadership Feat really well to some of this stuff and then show you how to build buildings and teams by using your Goods, Labor, Magic and Influence. They provide a way to make your building one room at a time providing an awesome number of rooms for you to look over. Also they provide a number of groups you can hire on too to create your Thieve’s Guild or Mercenary Company.

The rooms section is excellent. I can not tell you how many times as a teenager I went to map a castle out and built my throne room a few bedrooms, a prisoner dungeon and a gatehouse with moat and said “What am I missing?” Well let me tell you, the answer to my questions lay within these pages. I smiled at the extensive list and imagined myself with a seventeen story palace with every one of the detailed rooms located inside. I am seriously going to build a few places up and build some maps using this. Which reminds me, they provide some nice maps of a select few of the buildings included too!

The last thing that I am yet to mention is they provide a kind of random encounter list of things that happen for generic buildings and also specific lists for a lot of the buildings. These contain some excellent adventure hooks to whet the players appetite that a GM could easily build into a nice little side adventure while the players are just working on their own thing.

So, there you have it. this chapter needs to be reorganized. It should have interesting stuff first so everyone gets enthused about what they can do and then learn the boring stuff of what happens when you are gone after it. I can see there may be readers out there that may just skip this chapter after the first six pages of grueling agony. Had I read the second half first I would actually care about what they wrote in the first half. I would be open mouthed in shock about how my seventeen story palace could degrade while I was away. Truly I would.

But this chapter has also convinced me that I should give my players some down time and encourage them to invest in their characters. One of my players in the Serpent Skull game always wanted to set up a survival camp on Smuggler’s Shiv (the island you get shipwrecked on in the start of the module) and this would be perfect for that. I have been inspired by this chapter to include a new, character forming, dimension to my games. That is after all what core rule expansions are meant to do right?

So, next week we will be moving into the wonders of Chapter 3: Campaign Systems. Something that I have a strong interest in and have written pretty extensively on with this and my own blog. It is this chapter that I was exceptionally keen to get my hands on when I heard of this sourcebook. So join me in a week as we unpack it in my next blog. Until then, keep rolling!

Review: Ultimate Campaign – Part 1

Ultimate Campaign CoverIt is taking me a little time to get through my Ultimate Campaign sourcebook by Paizo for Pathfinder. It is not because it is a poor book, rather that real life keeps trying to get in my way. This morning I had a bit of a revelation anyway in that the sourcebook has four chapters with topics that take a quite different look at various parts of a campaign so I should do a review per chapter. In the final review I will bring it all together and give you my overall impressions of the book but this way I am able to give a bit more of an in depth look to each chapter as we go because they are quite meaty chapters.

Chapter 1: Character Background

This chapter is largely what I was looking forward to this book for. Many of you will realise that I am a big role-player as opposed to the roll-player. I like to take on large roles, or fill my games with them so that the drama does not necessarily need to rely on combat to progress. To play a large character you need to think not only about their motivations but also where their motivations stem from. That is right, the background of the character. I have a discussion about getting into backgrounds on my own blog, which you can reach from this link.

Pathfinder has made attempts to get players involved in character background through Traits that first arose as a free web supplement and then also got included in the Advanced Players Guide (APG). Feats also could be attached to your character background as well if you so wished to do so. But in reality the background of your character has been largely left to your own to develop (which is not a bad thing) while the game focused on how to handle “the now”. As a GM I have always needed my players to use the Trait rules from the APG, taking a trait that they want and a campaign trait (to the adventure path or from the APG). This of course has led to an array of characters who all choose the Reactionary trait as their free choice and a varying campaign trait. Few of these characters ever bothered to tie these into a background of sorts.

Well, enter Chapter 1 of Ultimate Campaign (UCamp), which is in its entirety here to offer a mechanic to build your character’s background with sixty-eight pages of advice and support. As that is more pages combined of the sections that make up the Games Master section of the Core Book I think the people over at Paizo have looked at the trend of story based games that are rising in popularity and are beginning to provide some assistance on how to build well developed characters before the first game is even done.


The chapter itself offers up a couple of different options to building your character. The first option is a structured brainstorming idea that helps you take on a character concept (with some really good ideas on what to do when stuck) that looks at the circumstances around your birth inclusive of family, the area, the characters social standing, exposure to magic and also a major event that is likely to be part of the formation of why the character took on a role like they did.

The brainstorm then moves you through adolescence including how you move from a child to an adult in your community, what friends, allies and influences affect you. It also asks you to think of a class event in that an event that led you to the training of your character’s actual class rather than social class, details of your first love as well as your duty and responsibilities. Then it leads into your adult life and the character you are now. It asks you to reflect on the past and how your character handles such things like their ordinary demeanor or conflict, what their vulnerabilities are, who their friends, associates and companions are. Once you have thought about this it then asks you to think about your trait choices and tying them into the background as a whole.

New Trait Mechanics and Drawbacks

The second option is a Background Generator which allows you to build a complete random background for the character. Before I discuss this I want to discuss the expanded traits that exist in this book and the new mechanics they have added to the character background. Traits have been greatly expanded in this new book. They have gone from an eight page section in the APG to a thirteen page inclusion (with all the traits from the APG included) in UCamp. The rules around traits are still that you may take two for your character. But now there is an addition to the rule where you can take three traits if you are willing to take on a drawback! New mechanic people! The drawback is something that limits your character in some way and they introduce some examples which are good but they are limited to two pages. I love this new idea as it becomes a source of conflict which adds drama to the game but only two pages of them? Come on! We want, nay need more Paizo. There are a world of flaws you can draw on and we get only a handful of good examples?

The Background Generator

The reason I covered the traits and flaws expansion before the random background mechanics is due to the fact that as you go through the Background Generator (BG) it ties results to possible traits that you should choose from so that the traits you choose are reflective of the events in your background. The BG is something that when I started reading I turned my nose up a little at it. I thought a character should come from within the player but the more I read the more I warmed to it. I thought of the characters that my players had run and how some of them had little to no background at all and thought this is a great way to show the importance of it. The BG is very old school in its approach. It is essentially a process of going to tables and rolling a percentile and finding the result. The tables go through three different stages (multiple tables in each stage.

Pathfinder TroopsThe first stage is the Homeland, Family and Childhood stage. It lays out tables explaining about your family, what life is like in your homeland and more. As you go through and role on these tables you open up access to certain traits that you may want to take in your allocation of traits. For example, if I rolled an 82% on the Circumstances of Birth table on page twenty I would gain access to the Blessed faith and Birthmark faith trait (there is a description to the roll but I won’t be offering spoilers). Now it is just gaining access to it which means at the end of the BG when all three sections are complete I will have a list of traits that fit my background and I will then go through them and choose up to two traits from the list or up to three if I am to take a drawback.

The second stage covers the character’s adolescence and training into their class while the third and final stage looks at moral conflicts, relationships and vulnerabilities. The third stage even has an alignment generator tied to the background of the character! How cool is that? Fancy your alignment being a product of your background!

Story Feats

The final thing that I want to say about this chapter is the final new mechanic in it called the Story Feat. These are fantastic! They can be tied into character background I believe at points during the BG as a suggested feat for the character. They in essence offer you a personal quest, which gives you added abilities (like a normal feat) while you are pursuing the quest and then, once complete, these abilities tend to become more powerful. These Feats can be taken by anyone that meets at least one of the eligibility criteria at the start of it, which means they are easily adaptable to existing campaigns. The Feats themselves offer a GM automatic secondary stories or plot lines to be incorporated into your game adding a beautiful depth to the story that will be pursued by the player! Get into these feats GM’s and players alike. if you sit around in game wondering what is going on, these feats will give you motivation to stay focused and find areas that can help you complete the feat. There are a healthy eight pages devoted to these feats.

Chapter 1 Likes and Dislikes

This sourcebook is shaping up to be a fantastic sourcebook for the Pathfinder game. It is working mechanics to give an in depth story. Chapter 1 on a flick through looks to be all rules and regulations for the game and may be a bit off putting to a player. But the essence of all these rules is to bring an enhanced, in depth understanding to the character and why they act like they do. The rules do not need to be memorized and are easily skimmed through as you make your character.

The thing I am most excited about is the Story Feat, which are just a brilliant idea. They add an in game reason for focus and plot development that the player has an increasing buy in to. I can see me developing may more of them for use in my game and I do hope Paizo has planned other story feats that might be linked to adventure paths or the like. The BG also looks to be a fun way to build a character background. If I ever have the opportunity to be a player in another Pathfinder game I am going to go all in with a completely random background for a challenge to roleplay the end result. It is a very old school way to achieve a background but I think it is going to be fun to see the variations from it.

The only criticism I have of this chapter are the poor amount of drawbacks. The ones there are okay but in one lot of characters you are likely to use most of them up. Drama comes from vulnerabilities and foibles and for this mechanic to be truly embraced we need a lot more drawbacks that can be used. Before I run my next game I am actually going to have to spend a good deal of time fleshing these out as my group will get any advantage they can (three traits, one drawback is better than two traits).

There are some of you out there that have probably read this sourcebook three times over by now but I hope that some of you will read some of these reviews and make your decision on if you should include it in your rules set. I am enjoying savoring the book as I read through it and I will bring a review of the next chapter to you next Monday. Until then, keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  39 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.