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G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
by Aaron S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2020 13:52:44

This print is blurry. One of the pages even has a stain on it which wasn't bothered to fixed before print. How people could be giving this POD 5 stars is beyond me. I should have read the discussions before purchase.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)
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D&D Basic Set - DM's Rulebook (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/01/2020 12:25:27

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/06/becmi-basic-set-review.html

How does one go about reviewing a game I know so well but in a book I know very little about? More to the point how does one review a classic? Well as my oldest son says, "with determination."

The third set of books to be released as the "Basic set" was the Mentzer "Red Box" Basic that would become the "B" of the BECMI line. So many copies of this set have sold that it has become synonymous with "the Basic Set" and "the red Box" in D&D circles. The set itself contained two books, a Player's Book (to be read first) and a Dungeon Master's Book (to be read by the DM).

Already we have a departure from the previous Holmes (1977) and Moldvay (1981) Basic sets. While those older sets had one book for rules (48 and 64 pages respectively) and an included adventure (B1 and B2 respectively) this set only has the two books. This is not the issue it might seem at first since this set features a rather infamous solo adventure and a programmed adventure that can be used with a DM.

The box set also came with dice, a crayon for coloring in the numbers, and some information about the RPGA.

The Dungeon Master's book is 48 pages, color art cover, black & white interior art. This book follows the Player's book in terms of layout and scope.

The title page here is largely the same as the Player's Book, but it is a chance for us to reflect on how this game is really the direct descendent of the Original D&D game. Though there is a reminder that Players are not to read this book! Only DMs!

We get right into the roles of a DM here, after covering some brief introductory materials and some common terms and abbreviations. Looking over these were are still in a time that Pre-Dates THAC0 as a term.

There are checklists of things to do pre-game and during the game and during combat. It's a nice clear and spelled out version of the same material seen in the previous Moldvay Basic set. In fact, there is a lot of material here that looks and reads the same. This is natural since both sets are drawing from the same sources. It is a bit like reading something you are already very familiar with, but it is still somewhat different and new. Like trying to read Danish after learning German. Or maybe more accurately, reading American Spanish after learning European Spanish.

There is a built-in adventure for new DMs that serves the same purpose as the Solo one in the player's book. It is fine, but I think back to my time in running the Keep on the Borderlands and hoe much I learned from that.

The procedures and rules section is all laid out alphabetically. So "Elves" come before "Mapping" and "Time". Again, I am reminded of the layout seen in 4e and it is obvious that the designers of 4e were fans of this edition.

The next big section is on Monsters. This section reads very much like the same section in Molvay Basic, some even down to the exact same words. I don't find this a problem though. Some people went from Holmes Basic (77) to Cook/Marsh Expert (81) and some people will come from those earlier Basics to this. There needs to be a continuity of rules. Minus some organization and some clearer directions these are supposed to be the same games. Yes there are some differences. I find them to be minor at worst.

Back to Monsters, the section seems to have all the Usual Suspects, give or take a couple. I did notice that there is much less art here. I would have loved to have seen more versions of these classic monsters. An Elmore drawn Thoul? Yeah, that would have been great! Also, this has the only piece of recycled art I have found. The dragon breath diagram looks the same here as in Moldvay. That's actually pretty cool. All new art? TSR was putting their best on this. I'll talk more about the art in a bit.

Treasure follows and it is every 1st level character's dreams come true. Swords to hit those pesky magic monsters! Gold! Platinum! Potions of Healing!! 2-7 hp was all you needed back then to get back into the game.

A nice bit about creating and stocking dungeons with monsters and treasures. More direction than we got in Holmes or Moldvay to be sure.

We end with some tables for random monsters, saving throws, and a combined index!

Art The art in both books is fantastic. Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, and Jeff Easley at the very top of their game. They defined how millions view Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, yes I am a fan of the older stylings of Bill Willingham, Erol Otis, and Jeff Dee, but this was at a new level. The art was consistent throughout and all of it wonderful. Sadly it is also a little sparse compared to Moldvay, but I guess there are more pages to fill here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set - DM's Rulebook (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
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D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/01/2020 12:25:20

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/06/becmi-basic-set-review.html

How does one go about reviewing a game I know so well but in a book I know very little about? More to the point how does one review a classic? Well as my oldest son says, "with determination."

The third set of books to be released as the "Basic set" was the Mentzer "Red Box" Basic that would become the "B" of the BECMI line. So many copies of this set have sold that it has become synonymous with "the Basic Set" and "the red Box" in D&D circles. The set itself contained two books, a Player's Book (to be read first) and a Dungeon Master's Book (to be read by the DM).

Already we have a departure from the previous Holmes (1977) and Moldvay (1981) Basic sets. While those older sets had one book for rules (48 and 64 pages respectively) and an included adventure (B1 and B2 respectively) this set only has the two books. This is not the issue it might seem at first since this set features a rather infamous solo adventure and a programmed adventure that can be used with a DM.

The box set also came with dice, a crayon for coloring in the numbers, and some information about the RPGA.

The Player's Book is 64 pages, color art cover, black & white interior art.

This is the familiar D&D game. The title page tells us that this is Dungeons & Dragons created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The editor, though many will say the actual architect of the BECMI line, is Frank Mentzer. He is so tied to this edition that it is also called the Mentzer Basic book.

While Holmes did a good job of organizing the Original D&D game into something that could be used as and introduction to the game (or too AD&D maybe), it was the Moldvay edition that really tried to make an introductory game to new players. The Mentzer set takes this to the next level by giving us a true introduction to the game.

The target audience is 10-12-year-olds but it takes care not to talk down to the audience, there even seems to be a choice in language to try and educate as much as possible too. TSR expected their target audience to be young, educated, and (for better or worse) male. But I will touch on that later.

Up first you are taken on one of the most infamous solo adventures ever. You are playing a fighter and you have to investigate a dungeon. You meet a cleric named Aleena, and a goblin and an evil wizard named Bargel. The rest is a tale told in many taverns across the known world. While I have a number of issues with the solo adventure, and I'll discuss those elsewhere, it is an effective tool for grabbing people and getting them into the game. The adventure explains aspects of your character and makes them salient in the situation. In the education biz we call this "situational learning" and it is an effective tool.

After the adventure, we get to the part where your character is explained to you. What the ability scores mean, what the saving throws are for, how to hit with weapons. It is the "what is Roleplaying" section of every other RPG book writ large.

There is another Solo adventure, with some nods to the two M series for solo dungeons.

So now that the player knows the basics of play the various character classes are introduced. Here we have the Cleric, Fighters, Magic-User, and Thieves for humans and Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. The text is very, very explanatory. Great for a brand new player but feels wordy to me now. Granted, these were not written for someone with 40 years of experience. Heck, no one had even a quarter of that yet when this was written so my point of view is out of sync with the design goals of this game.

Looking over the classes I notice a few things. The class descriptions are very self-contained. Everything you need to know about playing a Cleric for example is right there. Including the Saving Throw tables WITH the class. A vast improvement over the constant flipping through pages we had to do with AD&D at the same time. Also, I noticed how weak the thief was then. No comparison to the Rogues of later editions.

The design elements of the self-contained class pages is something we will see again in D&D 4e and 5e. It is very effective and if you are like me and like to print out your PDFs then it also gives you flexibility in organizing your version of Basic.

There is a solid emphasis throughout the book on how playing together, and working together, as a group is the best experience. There also seems a little extra emphasis on how the Players are not the Characters. It feels wonderfully 80s when the was the moral panic that kids would start to act out like their characters and meet the fate of poor Black Leaf and Marci. Today people online refer to their characters in first person and laud their achievements as their very own. What a difference some time makes.

We get to alignment with a strong prohibition against playing Chaotic or Evil characters. Retainers and other topics. There is even a solid Glossary (I mean really who does this anymore? I miss them!) to help in supporting my point of view of D&D as a learning tool. There is even a small section on using minis, character sheets, and other aids. There is even a nod to AD&D to remind players that this game, D&D, is not AD&D.

All the basics are covered. No pun intended. Ok. Maybe a little one. Everything the player needs to get started. They now just need a DM. Thankfully the next book covers all that.

Art The art in both books is fantastic. Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, and Jeff Easley at the very top of their game. They defined how millions view Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, yes I am a fan of the older stylings of Bill Willingham, Erol Otis, and Jeff Dee, but this was at a new level. The art was consistent throughout and all of it wonderful. Sadly it is also a little sparse compared to Moldvay, but I guess there are more pages to fill here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)
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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
by Aaron S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2020 08:33:29

Very nice for this aadventure to be available at a less-than-ridiculous price. BUT the scan and print quality are horrendous. I bought a printed copy because it is usually more pleasant to read. Unfortunately, the poor quality makes this strenuous to be .



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
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DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
by Nicolas V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/30/2020 13:51:30

Good introductory adventure. Too bad some maps are not included (e.g. an inn, the barn)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX1-01 Defiance in Phlan (5e)
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I6 Ravenloft (1e)
by Mark L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2020 17:23:43

The printed book took 1 week to be delivered and it did not disappoint. The maps toward the center page are slight obscured but all in all a great reprint for a great price! As for the module a current DM will have to either run this adventure at 1E (AD&D) stats or modify the stats to current DND rules, but most DM's love doing things like this. This module is for medium to advanced DM levels of experience... play Phandelver and simpler modules first before tackling this one, you and your players will enjoy it even more. The rating is a 9 or 10 out of 10!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I6 Ravenloft (1e)
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Adventure with Muk (5e)
by Jean-Michel A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2020 06:03:36

My son (8 years old) really like the activities in this book. It's really fun for him to discover the world of D&D this way. I'm also looking forward to play the RPG at the end (a simplified version of D&D5) later on with some of his friends, but I was disappointed to find out they were only a (fun) setting and scenario hooks; and not a full scenario for kids. Anyway, that's a minor complain, I'm sure I will be able to improvise something nice based on those seeds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure with Muk (5e)
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RM4 House of Strahd (2e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:44:13

Reviewing the PoD copy I received. This one is one of the better PoD copies I've gotten from DTRPG, as the text is almost perfect. I really, REALLY wish that we could somehow get professional-level copies of the maps that came in these old modules and box sets, but I understand the limitations. The poster map is at the back of the book, spread across 4 pages, and it's of course not ideal but in this instance, it's there and it looks decent. The module itself fantastic, and it gives you a lot of options for making Strahd your own and giving you options for how he engages with your players. This module's status as a legendary adventure is well-deserved.

Hard to not suggest this for anyone looking to run a Ravenloft/horror campaign. The print quality is higher than most of the PoD copies I've ordered; the module is, despite a few "on-rails" segments, a lot of fun to run and to play. As a nice bonus, the module features the original stats from the module, plus newer "boosted" stats for higher-level/larger parties. I would also suggest this module over the original Ravenloft, unless you just want that one for nostalgia. This is definitely the superior iteration.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RM4 House of Strahd (2e)
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When Black Roses Bloom (2e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:37:40

PoD copy is pretty impressive. Considering the maps that came with the original are inserted on pages in the back, it turned out pretty good. I hope that DTRPG/WoC can figure out a way to reproduce these module/box-set maps at some point because I would gladly pay extra to have them. The maps are at the back, and the way they're laid-out makes them somewhat useful. Text is crisp and readable throughout the book. In terms of print quality, it's all there with no complaints. The module itself is excellent, because who doesn't love a Dragonlance/Ravenloft crossover? My only minor complaint is that the cover art is slightly off-center but it's not a big deal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
When Black Roses Bloom (2e)
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Dragonlance Adventures (1e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:34:27

PoD copy review. The one I got was surprisingly good. I decided to order one rather than pay the price that the original is going for. I understand the complaints about the text being blurry and difficult to read, but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The text on my copy is SLIGHTLY blurred but it's perfectly readable and really not as bad as you might be imagining. I'm actually really glad I got it for such a good price. The book itself is useful if you're planning on running a Dragonlance campaign. It will go perfectly with Tales of the Lance. It is definitely a scan copy, though, and not "original electronic." That said, I'm still glad I got it. So, caveat emptor, but my copy isn't really that bad at all.

Also, my copy DOES have the title printed on the spine.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragonlance Adventures (1e)
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The Gothic Earth Gazetteer (2e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:24:31

PoD copy. The black levels are just slightly off enough to make the text a bit "off." It's still readable without inducing a headache, but it's not a perfect copy. Overall it's a decent copy and I can't really complain for the price. The content is very useful if you plan on running Masque of the Red Death or any Cthulhu-By-Gaslight type campaign.

For reference, my copy did not come with the title printed on the spine; again, not a big deal. A solid 4-star PoD sourcebook.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gothic Earth Gazetteer (2e)
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FRQ1 Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (2e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:16:30

Ordered a PoD copy. For the price, there's not much to complain about, really. The text is only very slightly blurry, but it is readable and won't cause any eye strain unless your copy is different or you have eyesight issues. For some reason, my copy has some coloration issues on the cover, where it's much, much darker than the original; not really a big deal but it's hard to see some of the finer details of the cover art.

The module itself is surprisingly good, considering a lot of 2e published modules are rather "on-rails." It is an excellent way to open up an epic Forgotten Realms campaign. There are some locations mentioned that are not really fleshed out and that's something you'll have to do, or adjust for your campaign. It's kind of a no-frills, straightforward adventure that will give players a foothold in one of the Forgotten Realm's most important regions, from which they can propel themselves into Faerun at large. For the price I got it at, it's a no-brainer, really.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FRQ1 Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (2e)
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FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2020 16:04:27

PoD copy is surprisingly good and almost looks exactly like the original. The colors on the cover are nice and vivid. The content itself is useful for anyone running a FR campaign in which the Red Wizards will make an appearance or be featured. There's a lot of good content here. The map at the back of the book is also surprisingly good. For the price, it's hard to not recommend this sourcebook. I disagree with the previous reviewer about it being fuzzy...maybe it was just the specific print shop that shipped my book, but the text is perfectly readable, crisp even. The background color that was used widely across 1E products is there and is unnecessary but doesn't really get in the way too much.

For the record, my copy DID have the title printed on the spine; I know this is sometimes a hit or miss affair that seems to depend on which location/shop your order was sent to.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)
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S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e)
by sean w. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2020 20:40:18

The quality of the POD was awesome. Exceptional work. It was like have my orignal back in my hands.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
S1 Tomb of Horrors (1e)
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DDEX2-09 Eye of the Tempest (5e)
by Greg T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2020 06:39:29

A huge module with the potential for greatness: This is NOT your average Adventurer's League module. Featuring two entirely separate overland journeys, each containing multiple unique and memorable encounters, followed by a sprawling miniature city with dozens of named characters, this feels more like the spine of an entire campaign than an AL one-shot. You will not finish this module in four hours, or even six hours. And it ends on a cliffhanger - the story's only halfway over, and continues in DDEX2-13 The Howling Void!

My heart goes out to anyone who sat down at a regular AL night and tried to get through this monster. It can't be done. But for those running this in a different setting, who have the time and space to let the module breathe, this is a highly recommendable outing, and one of the best efforts of Adventurer's League Season 2.

Let's start with the weaknesses. First: yes, there are two entirely different versions of the first half of the module, based on which of two roads players decide to take. They'll only see one of them. This is ridiculous over-design, especially as both paths are really great adventurers, and it's heartbreaking as a DM to see what the players are missing.

Second: the monastery is just too big and unstructured. There are dozens of named characters in here. Some have short roleplaying notes. Others have none. There's no map of the area. Most of the NPCs, and indeed most of what they have to say, are red herrings, and players could lose hours diving down rabbit holes that lead nowhere without the DM keeping a firm hand on things.

And thirdly: Encounter balance is all over the place. Early encounters threaten frost giants and remorhazes for players who have no real chance of opposing them. Later ones are problematic. The final battle is either trivially easy or overwhelmingly difficult depending on how long players take to reach it, with no real chance of tuning it to a happy medium.

BUT - oh, the content that's there. Almost none of what's in the module feels stale or done to death. Encounters routinely break the Adventurer's League mold, including a remorhaz rodeo, a friendly giant druid, and more. The detail is there for DMs to make each section as long or as short as player interest demands, and if players ask you a worldbuilding question, the chances are the answer is right there in the module. The final battle is thematically climactic, even if the difficulty is off, and the cliffhanger ending is potentially exciting. It feels like there's just too many ideas here to fit into Adventurer's League, and they're bursting out at the seams.

Overall, I highly recommend the module - with the two caveats that you will need enough time to run it, and you will need to run the sequel as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDEX2-09 Eye of the Tempest (5e)
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