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Publisher's Choice - Sketchbook Creatures (50+ collection)
by Stephen H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2020 10:49:37

Okay, so I review this as some length here

https://www.thegrinningfrog.com/post/review-sketchbook-creatures

but the essence is that this is something of a mixed bag. You get 53 images so that's a lot for your money, even at full price. Of those I think roughly 40 are entirely usable whilst the others are potentially lacking too much detail.

Whatever technique has been used to create the art has soften the images and the contrast is so low that some become quite indistinct.

The art is very much a sketchbook style but, and this is a guess not a known fact, it's been done via computer so it looks surpringly uniform. Which visually clashes a little with the 'sketch' idea. The images also come on a light faux paper background which is going to be difficult to remove without removing parts of the images - at least on the succubus that I tried it on.

Effectively this is a grab bag of Dungeons and Dragons creatures. I actually wrote out the list of names but don't want to cause any IP issues so suffice to say you get creatures you will recognise. I mention some by name on my fuller review and there are things to like in here too.

Some of the details are good - the succubus has cloven feet, the blink dog is blinking (I love that!), the ettin has different number of eyes on each head, the expressions on some are great - the Dretch is drooling. I actually don't know that creature but I assume it's some sort of large thuggish brute from the picture.

If you want ingame art, this pack is perfectly fine. If you want images to use in publications you might want to reconsider. Yes you get a lot of volume but unless you are going for a sketch style this isn't going to work. The three on the cover are three of the better images although there are easily ten to fifteen really good ones beside those. It doesn't get better than what you see on the cover, just fyi.

It's going to take a while for me to use these images, they don't beg me to use them. I gave them four stars because really it's a solid 3.5 but that's not an option. I felt mean scoring them down to a 3 as some of the images are nice and I appreciate the details.

SUMMARY

In Game Use Get it in one of their sales to offset the images that just don't work and you should be fine. For Publishing Purposes Only purchase if you can use multiple images in a very specific style that won't blend well with other sketch styles



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Sketchbook Creatures (50+ collection)
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Shadows over Vathak: The Hollowfield Harvest Festival (5th Edition)
by Jay G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2020 21:52:39

The Hollowfield Harvest Festival is a great introductory adventure with a fun Halloween theme.

In addition to some spooky goings-on Hollowfield provides a great starting location or homebase for a new group of adventurers. The flavour-text is very well written and although I grabbed this as a seasonally appropriate adventure based on it's great (FREE!) price, the quality of the writting and presentation have definitely convinced me to invest in more of Fat Goblin's Vathak material.

I would highly recommend this adventure for anyone looking for a fun low-level adventure set against an interesting backdrop.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: The Hollowfield Harvest Festival (5th Edition)
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Stranger Stuff: Back to School (TinyD6)
by Marc C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2020 19:02:29

Big thumbs-up. I bought it for some RPG entertainment aimed at grade-schoolers. Was not disappointed. I can tell that we have some winner plots on our hands here! And I love that there is the idea of an advantage to the kids who do their homework. This is a terrific supplement and the design is really attractive. The color evokes a lot of fond memories. Thanks to the publisher.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stranger Stuff: Back to School (TinyD6)
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Ghost Stories Collection
by Marc C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2020 18:56:12

This is a really terrific value (how many hundreds of pages are here??? wow) and a great source of inspiration for RPGers. I read a little bit of an old haunted house story to my daughter and she loved it. Sending our best to Gideon (who we are informed via newsletter is a pet pig belonging to the publisher), a good boy recently overtaken by difficult life events.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ghost Stories Collection
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Stranger Stuff: Back to School (TinyD6)
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2020 07:49:46

In 2020, Back To School is frankly more horror than the way kids usually treat it, which makes this product for the TinyD6 system even more appropriate than usual. If you're familiar with TinyD6, this product is basically more of what you'd expect - that alone should be enough to tell you if you want to pick this up or not. For everyone else, this is essentially a rules-light product designed for fast games, which makes it a good filler between a longer set of games, or something to enjoy if someone can't make it. Not a product for everyone, but fun on its own merits if you enjoy these sorts of themes in a game. Might be fun to play with kids, too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stranger Stuff: Back to School (TinyD6)
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Close Encounters: Onyx Station
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2020 05:05:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Close Encounters-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so we have essentially an Event Horizon situation on our hands: Onyx Station vanished in hyperspace, and now, 50 years later, it suddenly reappeared. Scanners show biological life, and it’s up to the party to explore the returned station. Structurally, this is essentially DIY-make-your-own-module toolkit, providing brief overviews of respective sections alongside hazards ad creature suggestions, with every 2 levels getting their own suggested creature assortment and adventure hooks.

Unsurprisingly, this means that the majority of the pdf is taken up by a bestiary, but we also get two ships: The tugboat, which is a tier 3 shuttle coming with a gravity beam; I generally like this ship, though it has some space left to customize it, and the tier 5 pilgrim-class freighter. Both are not combat-focused, just so you know. They are not as meticulously-crafted as the vessels presented by Evil Robot Games.

Anyhow, bestiary: We have pretty much a nice array of the classic concepts you’d expect, conceptually: We have weird science-experiments (CR 6), chaos beasts (CR 7), columns of flesh (CR 10), sedating fungi, creepy sentries (think Alien: Isolation), fear-consuming nuisances, scifi-morlocks, etc. – essentially, the creatures herein have a pretty strong horror angle.

The good news here is that you can use these critters; the bad news is that there are some glitches in them, some of which obviously did stem from slipping in the line in the table. When a CR 4 expert creature has the EAC and KAC of the CR 3 critter, the source of the glitch is pretty obvious. Said critter has btw. also slipped in the HP column – but down here, sporting 20 HP more than usual for the CR.

Fly speeds, if present, do not list being extraordinary or supernatural. We have further hiccups in the details here, like an ability that obviously should be mind-affecting (both from context, and the fact that its damage is untyped). The statblocks per se tend to be correct, but also sport quite a few glitches, some of which seriously should have been caught: “…while those already exhausted become exhausted.” [sic!]

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, okay on a mechanical level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with quite a bunch of nice full-color artworks. Fans of Fat Goblin Games will be familiar with a couple of those. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience; weird: Each critter gets two hyperlinks to point to them: One critter name, and the CR.

Kim Frandsen and Michael Ritter deliver a solid little toolkit here; it may not be exactly mind-blowing, but it is a helpful little supplement if you’re looking for some hazards and critters to add to your game. The build-integrity of the content is significantly higher than in e.g. the ill-fated NPC Codex. Oh, and this costs a grand total of $1.50. Do I think that this is worth the equivalent of not even half a cup of mediocre coffee (a good cup cost more than €3 where I live…)? Heck yeah. This may not be mind-boggling, but for little more than a buck? Most assuredly worth checking out! As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Close Encounters: Onyx Station
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Fungal Kingdom (TinyD6)
by Geoff G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2020 22:17:48

Full Disclosure: I work for Fat Goblin Games, but I had no involvement whatsoever in the design, writing, editing, or publication of this book, nor did I receive this book for free in exchange for a review.

If you liked the classic 8-bit console games of the late 80s and 90s, The Fungal Kingdom will take you back. The designers very accurately captured the feel of the games in terms of setting, tone, and monsters. The 6 new Heritages designed for the setting are also faithful to the games, and in my mind were the right ones to pick - they are also quite balanced in my view, and playable.

What I really appreciated were the Environmental Traits being grouped in a single section right before the intro adventure (basically rules/conditions to a specific part of the Fungal Kingdom that would affect play, due to the unique environments) - I didn't have to hunt around for information - and the sidebar on the treatment of the "Damsel in Distress" trope that was common to many of those games, but which in our own times really needs to be questioned and re-examined. I also appreciated the effort made to provide some historical background, where it made sense, to explain some of the ruins and other atmospheric details which never would have received any attention in a video game - these are seeds of possible adventures in themselves.

The intro adventure itself takes the players on a grand tour of the Fungal Kingdom and neighbouring territories. It's very similar to a specific video game that inspired this setting, but in that respect it's a perfect homage.

Highly recommended. Can't wait to see more!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fungal Kingdom (TinyD6)
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Close Encounters: NPC Codex
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/30/2020 11:58:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 64 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

This book contains 8 characters intended for general use, and 5 custom characters, so let’s take a look at the general use characters first, shall we? Structurally, we get a plethora of different builds for various CRs – CR 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, so quite a bunch of builds for each character. For the general use NPCs, the integrity of the statblocks is very important, obviously. Unfortunately, this is where this book falters. On a cosmetic angle the first two lines of the statblock (denoting gender + species, alignment, type, etc.) are missing from all but the first of the statblocks. Indeed, in a really annoying angle, all but the first statblock tends to be cut down to bare minimums, which don’t include e.g. speed (which is VERY important in SFRPG). While this triggers my OCD to no end, it’s most assuredly a factor that can be ignored if the statblock utility is up to par, right?

Well, there are a couple of other issues with the stats, and these, alas, are more poignant. There are quite a few instances where base arrays have not been consequently used, mixing and matching, for example, the values provided by expert array and spellcaster array. Race/class graft interaction also tends to be rather weird and inconsistent, and e.g. the hacker is missing the plusses for the (sometimes incorrect) skill values, instead putting the values in brackets. The whole array of the hacker statblocks do not feature the correct (good) skill values for Perception in the senses line. More egregious: What about spellcaster builds that only list the base spell DC and fail to add the spell levels properly? We have operatives sans the proper initiative boosts, and the truncated statblocks also mean that the speed enhancement is missing. Skill bonuses? Nope. The special abilities are all crammed into one header, instead of being properly integrated into the statblock.

So yeah, unfortunately, the mechanical flaws in the builds severely compromise this entire supplement, and the puzzling decision of these truncated statblocks renders using them hard, even for people who don’t care about mechanical issues.

Indeed, if anything, the entire book feels woefully rushed in a plethora of ways, and in a manner, that’s a pity, for there are these small touches that show that the team cared. We have a plantlike dragon template graft (with a header not properly bolded); but on the downside, we have improperly formatted spells and needlessly untyped bonuses here. Ironic: The new graft hasn’t always been implemented properly. The builds consistently fail to properly situate abilities where they belong in the statblock. And this is heart-rending, for the little details show some passion: When hackers at high levels gain an ability to represent how caffeinated they are, you have to smile. When you get essentially a transformer NPC, that’s neat to see; a professional fighter/big game hunter skittermander? Those are cool concepts, illustrated in a rather neat manner. A sentient ooze named Bleeb Glolump? Cool! The sentient hive turned DJ? Awesome. The concepts for the named NPCs herein are great; however, they are compromised by both the mechanical hiccups and the utterly puzzling decision to cut their statblocks down to a level that is no longer comfortable or convenient to use.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are not good; there are several formal glitches, math not checking out, as well as cosmetic hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, with colorful artworks provided for each character. The pdf has bookmarks, but the bookmarks are nested in a weird way: “Introduction” is the header for the first character, who is the header for the second character, etc., until we are 4 sub-levels deep. Yet another indicator of a rushed release.

Ben Dowell’s NPC Codex is a supplement that really needed a second pass by the author; the puzzling decision to cut away vital parts of the statblocks eliminates immediate utility even for those tables that can look past the plethora of errors in the statblocks, and there are so many basic snafus in the stats that I can’t really recommend this pdf. At one point, I had a running list of issues, but I ended up deleting it; it felt like bullying/dissection, rather than criticism. Suffice to say, this has a ton of issues.

I like the concepts for the named NPCs and their little touches, but for a utility-focused book such as this, that does not suffice. My final verdict can’t exceed 1.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Close Encounters: NPC Codex
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5th Edition Horror
by Oliver H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2020 10:19:01

This book is wonderful. Our DM for the horror themed campaign we're in the middle of was soo excited for everything in here, from monsters to items and everything else in between. I'm looking forward to what they throw at us next.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Horror
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Fungal Kingdom (TinyD6)
by Matt S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2020 19:32:02

Read it, loved it, full review after I've run it...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fungal Kingdom (TinyD6)
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Heritage Composer (TinyD6)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/06/2020 11:38:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 112 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 107 pages of content, laid out for booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), so let’s take a look!

This book was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my supporters.

So, what does this do? Essentially, this is a DIY-heritage composer, which has assembled a total of 125 Heritage Traits (partially compiled, partially new) and categorized them in 5 different tiers of power, differentiated by the number of base Hit Points the Heritage starts with. This range usually spans 8 to 4 HP. Nice: The book is pretty newbie-friendly and walks you through the basic considerations, like considering setting and genre, help with finding the proper inspiration, and then assembling the total. This is not just basic: The book provides advice like making your nonhuman characters closer to the ends of the HP spectrum, talks about talent choice, and skills.

The organization of the massive array of traits is helpful – it ranges from weakest or most restricted to strongest, from 8+HP to 4+, respectively. The book also clearly states the base line of 6 HP for humans in most settings, explicitly providing a context that’s easy to work within even for people less experienced/new to roleplaying games. Okay, so what can we find among the 8+ HP Heritages? Well, we for example have ameboids[sic!] (shouldn’t that be amoeboid?), who are immune to blunt object-damage, have only a 15 ft. speed and suffer Disadvantage on reaction rolls. We also get the Artificial Lifeform, ability to see in the dark, a Heritage representing coming from the depths beneath the waves (super helpful, but makes spending prolonged time on land dangerous). Being Gigantic makes you twice as tall, but prevents you from sneaking/hiding, and all Tests featuring equipment and Attacks using regular-sized weapons are at Disadvantage, plus you can’t use Light Weapons. Equipment and weapons have to be custom-made and are more expensive. Okay…so where is the hardcoded benefit beyond the system-immanent size benefits here? This one is pretty punitive.

On the plus-side, having a shell, being High-G Born, or being a hardlight projection (Red Dwarf, anyone?) are covered alongside living rock. The latter is super interesting, as it renders you immune to conventional Light and Heavy Melee Attacks and imposes Disadvantage on Ranged attack, but also makes you heal very slowly. You can be made of living metal (!!), elect to not need to sleep…or you can be really hard to destroy, at the cost of being somewhat of a parasite, requiring blood, youth, etc. to sustain yourself. Undead come with a wear and tear table.

The 7 HP Heritage Traits include being aquatic (the regular version), having corrosive fluids, foresight, multiple arms, the ability to protect yourself with a kinetic shield, or what about Claws as a Mastered Weapon, at the expense of not being able to make ranged weapons? There are also means to be able to process pretty much anything as food, an uncanny ability to go unseen, being venomous, etc.

The 6 HP Heritage Traits include being an Acrobat, Alchemist, Bar Fighter, etc. This region also includes being able to speak with animals, going Berserker, and a trait that marks you as being able to process information with Cold-Blooded detachment, making you hard to manipulate or intimidate. Classic notions such as becoming a Defender or Diehard are provided, and Eidetic Memory is also included in this context.

In the 5 HP-range, we have chameleon skin, healing via cold , having echolocation, being able to generate taser-like stunning shocks, and the pdf does include having an excellent metabolism, sense of smell, etc. are provided here – as is the classic hypnotic gaze, having a pheromone-based communication, web spinners, etc. are provided here. I really like the one that has you “zeroed out” – you don’t officially exist, whether due to glitch or magic.

Finally, the 4-HP range, we have insectoid bodies, the ability to conjure forth canine or feline spirits. Being naturally buoyant, being a descendant of fey, jumping through shadows or plants, etc. – you get the idea.

So, how does the system work? Method A): You choose two traits and take the lowest HP. Method B) You choose two traits and a drawback. Method C): Choose two traits AND limitations for each of them…and beyond these and their considerations spelled properly out, the pdf also provides some rough advice for handling Heritages with more than two Traits.

After this section, the book provides an array of drawbacks, which grant additional Hit Points upon taking them; these can be greed, being an enemy of the authorities, etc., we get quite a few interesting ones. The book also provides drawbacks specifically crafted to net you a bonus Trait, including classics such as being arrogant, having allergies, etc. – neat!

Beyond the drawbacks, we also get so-called Paragon Traits, which essentially mean that you embody something – you can have only one of those, and ideally, they are earned in game. The book does spend quite some time explaining how impact- and meaningful they should be regarding the roleplaying implications. To give you an example: Deadly Focus lets you concentrate an Attack against a single opponent, which deals 6 damage sans Test. The foe must make a Save Test at Disadvantage or suffer full damage, half as much on a success. The Trait works with any weapon group, but requires the character to focus EXCLUSIVELY on the one specific group chosen. If an enemy is killed with this Trait, all enemies witnessing it suffer Disadvantage on their next Attack. A character with this Paragon Trait may also not have Berserker. In some ways, paragon Traits almost fill the class niche – expert survivalist, great magics, really skilled at some tasks – with these, you can pretty much play the iconic adventuring party.

This is not where the book ends, though – instead, we get full rules for playing animal companions, with different guidelines for Small, Medium and Large companions – these rules provide concise and imho pretty well-balanced options. Furthermore, the section comes with, you guessed it, yet more Traits, such as Animal Telepathy, being psionic, being able to talk, etc. Moreover, we get a handy list of player traits suitable for Animal Companions, and two different options for handling advancement.

And guess what? More to come! The pdf then proceeds to provide rules for playing as a monster, including some salient advice on balancing them versus a non-monstrous party, with e.g. increased XP-cost providing a suitable way of keeping them from overshadowing “regular” characters. Once more, we get a list of recommended traits, before we dive into a selection of  sample heritages, which range from alien species to shadow fey to robot cats and undead spirits bound into inanimate objects. A 3-page worksheet (great handout) and a massive index complement this book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good as a whole, on both a rules-language and formal level. While I noticed a few minor hiccups, none of them really impeded my enjoyment of the book. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard, and features quite a lot of rather neat full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with bookmarks for chapter-headers, but not for individual traits – some additional bookmarks here would have been nice.

Geoff Gander’s Heritage Composer is a well-crafted tome, no doubt about that. It is interesting to observe how much depth and versatility the author manages to squeeze out of the relatively simple TinyD6-engine. It is also pretty impressive to observe that, for the most part, the balancing is really impressive and well-done; this does a much better job at delivering well-rounded toolkit-like races/species/heritages than many comparable games. Looking at Savage Species and Advanced Races Guide there…

But I digress: If you enjoy TinyD6, consider this to be a must-own book. It is versatile, interesting, and covers a lot of breadth without becoming obtuse or hard to handle. While there are a few minor snafus, the system as a whole is easy to customize, seamless in use, and inspired. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up, and this gets my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heritage Composer (TinyD6)
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Stranger Stuff (TinyD6)
by Gabriel F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2020 17:12:36

I’ve been acquiring various TinyD6 books that are available on DriveThruRPG lately, trying to decide which TinyD6 book I want to run with my friends online during these days of self quarantine and lockdowns. I’m leaning towards something to use with a modern setting. So I decided to check out Stranger Stuff (by Lucus Palosaari and Rick Hershey).

I’ve read through it in just a couple of days and I really liked it. I wasn’t planning to run a Stranger Things or Goonies type game but this book is really tempting me to do so (or maybe a Supernatural (TV show) type game). And even if I don’t end up running one, I found there’s still lots of cool stuff and ideas in this book that are just useful for any TinyD6 game.

Here are some of the stuff I liked from the book:

  • It uses the TinyD6 system (that’s a given)
  • Toughness+Stress (interesting variation to hit points)
  • Drawbacks (negative traits, could be useful to flesh out flawed characters)
  • the GM adventure creation section with examples
  • the Location rules (interesting simple ideas for creating your own town)
  • the list of Stranger Stuff (made me think about how to create my own custom items of interest or artefacts for my own game)
  • the Build-your-own-monster section (useful for building custom monsters even in other TinyD6 games)
  • the included adventure made me think of how I could be writing adventures for my TinyD6 games
  • I even liked the hand-drawn town map at the end of the book that you can colour-in and label as you like

At only 122 pages, it’s a complete game including the helpful GM stuff. I felt I got my money’s worth.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stranger Stuff (TinyD6)
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Publisher's Choice - Equipment Subscription 2
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2020 11:17:04

I loved the first Equipment Subscription, and have made extensive use of it. This subscription only has a few equipment sets so far, but I've already used some of the new art in a published product, and I can't wait to see what comes next!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Equipment Subscription 2
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The Pocket Campaign Planner
by Joseph K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2020 07:35:27

I'm preparing my first ever turn behind the DM's screen in a few weeks to run a one-shot and this book has been an invaluable resource organizing my thoughts. Highly recommended for first timers like me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Pocket Campaign Planner
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Publisher's Choice - Fantasy Design ( Interior Backgrounds)
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2020 13:36:38

The two backgrounds with the knot design, I have used many times over the years in products and they are great. The wood-edged one, I just don't care for and have never used. I don't see anything wrong with it, so if you like it you shouldn't have any issues with it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Fantasy Design ( Interior Backgrounds)
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