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May 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading May 2017 Reviews

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April 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading April 2017 Reviews

For the Hive Image

For the Hive – a Review

For the Hive is an adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, published by Playground Adventures for their “Fun & Facts” educational adventure line.

In this module, for four 2nd to 3rd level characters, the sprite Bzzercup approaches the PCs to help her liberate a fairy bee hive from Chuft, a pugwampi gremlin, and along the way, they learn a few things about real-world bees. By default, the adventure takes place in Playground Adventures’ village of Glavost, which has been showcased in several of their other adventures, though the village doesn’t play a prominent roll and the adventure could be transplanted to any other village or town with no fuss.

Details for Potential GMs Only

The adventure begins with a visit to the library where the adventurers meet up with apprentice wizard Owen who introduces them to the aforementioned Bzzercup. Once she has described her dilemma, the PCs need to solve the first problem: making themselves small enough to fit in a beehive. To accomplish this, there is a puzzle to solve which will net them a potion that allows them to “be the bug.” The puzzle comes with two levels of difficulty, which is nice for GMs with younger or less patient players.

When the young adventurers solve the puzzle and shrink themselves down (and get sprayed with bee pheromones), they must deal with the next challenge: crossing the yard to the hive. The yard is represented with a gorgeous full colour map (with a player friendly version at the back of the book), and allows the players to determine their route to the hive, with the chance for action during the journey, depending on the route chosen. Travel across the yard is well portrayed, with challenges appropriate to the PCs’ state. From an encounter with a now giant-seeming mantis, to escaping the “river” created by  a watering can, to evading a hazardous field of flying dandelion fluff, there are plenty of iconic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids moments.

Once the yard has been crossed, it’s time to get into the hive, but first the PCs must contend with Chuft’s minions, which take the form of origami paper wasps. The wasps are neat foes, and allow the players to unleash the full weight of their characters’ combat abilities without worrying about hurting anything. Defeating these foes lets the PCs enter the hive which is a linear five room dungeon, with a small challenge to overcome when transitioning from area to area. My comment about the linearity of the hive shouldn’t be taken as a complaint. This adventure is for children as young as four; the focused nature of the dungeon is appreciated.

At the end of the dungeon, the PCs meet face to face with Chuft and two or three paper wasps. I personally have a few reservations about pugwampis… I ran Legacy of Fire Part 1: Howl of the Carrion King for my regular group and the pugwampis bad luck aura caused men in their thirties to have tantrums… this adventure is for kids… fortunately, in play, the one pugwampi didn’t cause any emotional outbursts. Once Chuft is defeated, the adventure is over – save a bit of wrap-up.

Summary

For the Hive is a well written adventure that isn’t too taxing of a read and, as written, doesn’t look too taxing to run. The read-aloud text is copious and the challenges are varied; both do a good job of making the players feel like their characters have shrunk down to the size of insects. The combats tend to be against insects or constructs (that look like insects), so there isn’t too much worry on my part about the level of violence in the adventure.

Formally, the module is gorgeous, with thematically appropriate graphic design, beautiful maps, and nice artwork, all in full colour, though a printer friendly version would be nice for those that print their pdfs out.

There is an instance of layout weirdness regarding the puzzle mentioned above: the simpler version of the puzzle isn’t located where the text indicates it is, but rather three paragraphs later, which is confusing. I think it would make sense to box the puzzle text, which would dispel the confusion.

The adventure is stuffed with tidbits about bees, so teaching opportunities abound. If you are a parent looking for a nice adventure for your young kids, you would do well to pick this one up. Five Stars for For The Hive!

 

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March 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading March 2017 Reviews

April Fool’s Fun

Some time last year I was browsing through stock art on DriveThruRPG when I found the Invisible Stalker.  What does a picture of an Invisible Stalker look like? I was expecting faint outlines, or a ghost like appearance, or…. well what I found was this. It is an invisible stalker.

And with that I discovered the joy and humour of April 1st product releases. There are a fair few out there, and some of them might even deserve a semi-legitimate spot at the gaming table (10 foot poles can be super useful).

I knew I wanted Dire Rugrat Publishing to be a part of the fun, and so we started coming up with ideas. Not just a gag, I wanted the release to be an entertaining read, and something GMs could use.

not so advantageous abilities coverWe’re big on role-playing here.  For us, it’s not just how the dice land, it’s not just defeating capable BBEGs, it’s about the flaws and decisions that create a memorable story: the plotting seductress who looses her cool and watches her carefully laid plans unravel because someone calls her boring; the bar owner who gets burned by an adventuring party and inadvertently becomes one of their greatest nemeses; the terrifying arbiter of justice who just can’t seem to save against those mind-affecting spells.

If you like building your 5e NPCs yourself, you might have checked out our Advantageous Abilities line of products.

This line provides Game Masters a toolkit with which they can easily add feature abilities to monsters and NPCs, giving their NPCs an advantageous edge (or just a little role-playing fun).

Each product in this line has more than 15 themed feature abilities, and instructions that allow GMs to easily customize existing creatures or create all new foes.

Currently there are three Advantageous Abilities: Humanoid Special Abilities, Charismatic Abilities and Savage Abilities.

Our upcoming April Fool’s release, (Not So) Advantageous Abilities, features twenty abilities for GMs to give their NPCs a custom Achilles’ heel.  Making the most of this weakness can add flavour and humour to a campaign, creating a memorable nemesis and a little role-playing fun. 

With a table indicating the challenge rating adjustments, this little product allows you to take a powerful, capable NPC and give them an exploitable flaw, making someone way out of your PCs league a much better fit.

Keep your eye out this weekend, and get ready to amuse your players!

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February 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading February 2017 Reviews

5 PFRPG Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern

If you aren’t familiar with our Tangible Taverns line, this series of PDFs is dedicated to bringing life back to the local watering hole while making the GM’s job a little easier.

We help you bring the tavern to life with:

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Rumour and event tables
  • Tavern maps
  • Colourful and unique NPCs
  • Complete stat blocks (for Pathfinder and 5e compatible versions)

All of our taverns are designed to be slotted into just about any adventure, but this week we bring you a few specific Pathfinder RPG adventures that can easily host a Tangible Tavern or two.

Way of the Wicked Book Three: Tears of the Blessed 

tears of the blessed coverThis adventure, the third module of the Way of the Wicked adventure path by Fire Mountain Games, spends most of its page detailing the Vale of Valtaerna, but it begins travelling to the city of Ghastenhall. Some details are given about this city, the first one of a decent size the PCs have encountered since their escape from prison, but many are glossed over with the assumption being that the PCs get cracking on the Vale.   The city of Ghastenhall, which has a plethora of culture, is bound to be full of taverns, and just about any Tangible Tavern could be found in and around the city, but for us, it will always be home to The Bull & The Bear.  Yes, Tears of the Blessed was the beginning of our Tangible Taverns line.  During this long standing campaign the PCs set up shop in Ghastenhall and ended up purchasing a local tavern, which they used as their homebase, an excellent source of income, and a foothold to make inroads to eventual rulership.  Whether your PCs take it that far or not is up to them, but this tavern can easily be inserted in this adventure. In addition, with its obsession with the arts, Ghastenhall is the perfect location for a dinner theatre like Simon’s.  Give the PCs a break from their sinister plots with the antics of the colourful faces at this playhouse.

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear and Tangible Taverns: Simon’s Dinner Theatre today.

 


Kingmaker Book One: Stolen Land

king maker stolen land coverThe Kingmaker adventure path has PCs traipsing across vast swaths of untracked wilderness as they seek to build both their fortune and a kingdom. Stolen Land, the first book of the campaign, provides the PCs with a good home base in Oleg’s Trading Post, from which they can hexplore the virgin wilderness. But what happens if they don’t want to travel dozens of miles back to the Post after a run of bad luck? What happens if they get into a spot of trouble and just need a little R&R time to recover? Enter The Hidden Oak! This tavern, located in the bole of a massive tree in the heart of whatever forest you want to place it in, will give the PCs plenty of opportunity to unwind while interacting with the misfit forest denizens it houses, and gives them the chance to build relationships with powerful allies such as the tavern’s proprietor Beatrice, or with the mysterious sage Crescenzo. Plus, PCs can get a leg up on their next foray into the wood by eating some of the magically delicious food provided at the tavern!

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Hidden Oak today.

 


Rise of the Runelords Book Two: The Skinsaw Murders

rise of the runelords coverThe PCs must make their way from the small town of Sandpoint to the coastal metropolis of Magnimar.  The route is doted with taverns and inns in such a manner that travellers can easily reach the next establishment after 8 hours of travel where they can rest up for the night and continue on the next morning.  Blackberry Bill’s is a small stone tavern that can easily be placed just about anywhere, but with his rugged nature and aptitude with a weapon, it stands to reason Bill, a former adventurer, can easily take care of any troubles that come his way, and make a few coins off his jam while doing it.  PCs are bound to enjoy the blackberry treats they can find in this eclectic tavern before continuing on with their travels.

Blackberry Bill’s is one of three taverns found in Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns.

 


Hell’s Rebels Book One: In Hell’s Bright Shadow

in hell's bright shadow coverHell’s Rebels is probably my favourite of Paizo’s recent adventure paths. In it, a group of PCs gets to build up the Resistance in the Chelish city of Kintargo, and possibly free it from the infernal clutches of the thrice damned House of Thrune! Who doesn’t dig poking their fingers into the eye of Golarion’s least lovable purveyors of devil worship? If you’re looking for a location to foment dissent against the system, look no further than The Delectable Dragonfly. This ladies (well, self identifying as female) only teahouse is a fantastic location to build an army, pick up and leave coded messages, or just get a nice cup of tea and finger sandwiches. The revolution starts today!

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Delectable Dragonfly today.

 


Skull and Shackles Adventure Path

Skull_&_Shackles_logoWhen a big part of the premise of the adventure is for the PCs to explore the seas and ports of The Shackles, many taverns, inns, brothels, and other establishments are bound to be introduced.  Sometimes its easy to throw out a name and a brief description, but when the PCs will be sticking around a little longer, it’s a great time to drop in a Tangible Tavern.  If you are looking for a shifty tavern down near the docks, look no further than Tuffy’s Good Time Palace.  Worn out, tough, and laden down with a supply of pickled food and cheap beer, Tuffy makes the perfect host for fresh-of-the-boat pirates who haven’t seen the shore in days.  For those pirates who fancy themselves a cut-above-the-rest, let them head inland a bit and pay a visit to the Angelic Imp.  Well decorated and in demand with the well-to-do, this little tavern is the perfect place to drop a lot of coin on a good meal, and maybe conduct a discrete business deal.

A free sample version of The Angelic Imp is available, but for all the NPCs and a couple of stat blocks, look for Tangible Taverns: Trio of Taverns.  You can find Tangible Taverns: Tuffy’s Good Time Palace here.


If you like the idea of using Tangible Taverns, you can collect them all in the Tangible Taverns Bundle.

Dire Rugrat Publishing PFRPG bundle

Have you used a Tangible Tavern in one of your adventures? Share your story below!

January 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading January 2017 Reviews

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December 2016 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading December 2016 Reviews

How’d That Happen? (5 Ways to Use Plot Twist Cards)

Plot Twist Cards for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Well over a year ago I posted a review of GameMastery Plot Twist Cards: Flashbacks on Paizo.  This product is described as a “vividly illustrated deck” that “opens up a new experience of shared storytelling, providing players with ways to suggest events during any adventure.”  The idea is players get one of these at campaign start and at every level, and they can give the card to the GM to suggest a possible way for the events to play out.

At the time I wrote the review we’d recently introduced those cards, as well as the first set, as a means of putting a little power in the hands of the players as a reward for keeping a campaign journal. Before each session the player could read their journal and, assuming it was half decent, gain a card to redeem at a later date.

Since then we’ve played around with them a bit more, and, well, it’s been a bit of time since we added them to our gaming tool kit, so it seemed fitting to talk about them again, specifically, some cool ways you can add them to your campaign.
Deja Vu cardEach of the cards features the card name that represents a theme, a spot with a mechanic associated with the theme, and then four potential story points.  (I should note the flashback set often had me pondering exactly how the association between the story point and the card name was made, and if you are only going to pick yourself up one of these decks, I strongly suggest it be the original one.)

  1. Reward System. When we started using these cards, the GM gave them out to players for their player journals.  Like the hero point system, players can retain up to three cards to use for something awesome, or just to make things work out a bit more in their favor.  The difference here is that the card has to fit. Your charming female rogue is trying to distract that city guard while her friends sneak ill-gotten goods out of town? That lust card might do the trick when your roll went poorly – or your GM planned on having him not be easily distracted. Ours have also been used to steer the campaign in a different direction, with the cards sometimes having far reaching impacts. (I once used a card to put a personal nemesis of my character in a tight spot. The card assisted me in having her kicked out of her flat, and ended up causing most people to look at her like contagious disease.  With her life falling apart, the once wily woman came to my PC, who was disguised, looking for help.  I gave her shelter, let her get really comfortable, and hired her to work in my tavern. Then I brutally stabbed her in the back as I revealed my true identity. Ah, evil campaigns…)
  2. Player Inspiration. If you don’t want your players to collect them, or don’t like the idea of the reward system, or you don’t like giving them that much plotting power, you can also hand them out and use them on a smaller scale. One card per player per night. They hand them back at the end of the night.  If the players are in a situation where the card fits, they can use the mechanics of the card to aid them: +20 on a Diplomacy roll; Target becomes confused for 3 rounds; An ability or effect lasts 1 round longer than normal, etc.
  3. GM Inspiration. How many times as a GM have you hit a session where things are just lagging? The PCs aren’t following the leads you laid out, you don’t want to have a random band of thugs jump out an attack them just to liven things up, and you need a little inspiration.  Grab a card.  You might have to stretch your imagination a bit, but I promise the name of the card and those little story points on the bottom should get you thinking, and inspire you (and hey, if that first card isn’t working, just grab a second one). Plus the pictures alone can get your mind plotting.
  4. Plot Point. It’s almost a game in a game.  Draw a card before the game session and see if you can tie it into that night’s adventures.  It’s up to the GM and the players to make this happen, and we’ve found it amusing how easily some of these just naturally fit into what is to come.  Some cards seem to be the theme of the night, even before we knew what would be drawn.
  5. Plot a Campaign.  Either deal a series of them and draw inspiration on plotting your homebrew campaign, or shuffle them up and lay them out like a tarot reading. Past, present, what’s to come – it’s all there, and it could just be magical. At the very least it gives you a great starting point, with all kinds of potential plot hooks.

While I haven’t seen it done, I’ve also heard of the cards being used for board games like HeroQuest and Castle Ravenloft, or being shuffled up with a Harrow Deck.

Have you ever tried out the Plot Twist cards? What’s your most memorable use of a card?