Review: GM Screen Inserts

GM_Screen_InsertRaging Swan Press has just released a new product, GM Screen Inserts. These are available in a portrait and a landscape version, purchased separately. Both versions have 4 pages, and contain the same information. The only difference I spotted was the fact that the Sense Motive skill table is missing from the portrait version.

Each of the four pages covers a different topic. First up is combat actions, which includes lists of the various types of actions and whether these provoke attacks of opportunity or not. These tables are grouped differently from the ones found in the core rulebook. There are also tables of movement rates, monster identification and what the main combat manoeuvres do.

Next up is combat modifiers, which includes a list of common conditions, penalties for two-weapon fighting, concealment miss chances and various other modifiers in handy little tables. These tables are particularly useful for reference.

The third page covers magic and treasure, including the DCs for identifying treasure and spells, concentration check DCs and diagrams of spell areas of effect – I can see these being of particular use in my games.

Finally there is a page of common skill use DCs, including acrobatics, perception, climbing, riding, bluffing and diplomacy. I know these will come in handy for my games as well.

Visually, these inserts look great, using the same clean and easy-to-read style of other Raging Swan products. In a couple of places it feels like there is not enough space between columns, but for the most part the pages are very well laid out.

I would definitely recommend these GM screen inserts to any GM who wants well-laid-out reference tables for their GM screen. I personally use a landscape GM screen (I found a portrait screen was too high), but mine has only three panels as that’s all that will fit on my table. I might experiment with printing two pages on one as I’m not sure I’ll be able to decide which page to leave out. Needless to say, I’ll be printing these tables out and using them for my next game.

You can pick up both versions of these GM Screen Inserts over at paizo.com.

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Review: Village Backdrop: Edgewood

PZOPDFRSP101502EThis Village Backdrop product from Raging Swan Press gives us Edgewood, a prosperous but troubled town with plenty of adventuring opportunities for characters.

Like other Village Backdrops, this one gives a general overview of the settlement, highlights important inhabitants and locations, lists items for sale and the general look and demographic of the townsfolk. There are also several rumours that heroes might overhear in town, as well as a map. All of this is mostly system- and setting-neutral, making it easy to slot the village into just about any game.

What made Edgewood of particular interest to me was the strange curse that plagues the inhabitants of the village. Though the town is very well-off in terms of its produce and so on, every year, about three villagers die in horrible and violent ways. Although several reasons for this yearly ‘culling’ are suggested, they are kept vague enough that a game master could come up with just about any explanation that suits their story. Plenty of ideas came to mind as I was reading through this PDF.

If you’re looking to add a mysterious village to your game, this Village Backdrop is for you. You can pick it up on paizo.com or various other websites.

Review: So What’s the Hoard Like, Anyway?

Hoard_coverAs I mentioned in my previous review, Raging Swan Press has a number of useful resources for busy game masters. So What’s the Hoard Like, Anyway? is a product that focuses on treasure.

This little PDF covers levels 1 to 7, providing 12 treasure hoards with appropriate values for each level – that’s a total of 84 treasure hoards. Each level has a table where you can roll a d12 to choose an appropriate hoard for that level. The content of each hoard is described in detail, making it perfect for GMs who are tired of giving out generic gems, scrolls, rings, or other items. There is almost no repetition of items or descriptions, meaning this product contains literally dozens of unique item descriptions.

The foreword admits that using these hoards for every single pile of treasure could become overwhelming for players, and I’m in agreement there. The hoards detailed in this product are better suited to be given as rewards for defeating significant foes. While some of them are a collection of gems and other precious items, there are a few interesting items that aren’t actually valuable at all, like a stack of love letters. A few of the hoards are themed, such as a collection of royal garments or jewels, or dwarven items. A few items even present possible plot hooks in their descriptions, most of them open-ended enough to allow a GM to work it into their story.

Each hoard’s value is given, as well as the value of each individual item in said hoard. Even the DCs for identifying and appraising the items are given. In the case of magic items, the magic aura is listed as well. The rules for appraising and identifying items are conveniently included at the beginning of the PDF. All of this makes it easy for a GM to just drop the hoard into the game without preparation, or to mix and match items to customise a hoard. The actual descriptions of the items in the treasure hoards are system-neutral, making this a useful supplement for other fantasy systems as well.

You can pick up So What’s the Hoard Like, Anyway? over at paizo.com. There are two more products in this series that provide treasure hoards for higher levels, or you can grab All that Glimmers, which combines all three hoard products and several other treasure-related ones into one collection.

Review: So What’s the Riddle Like, Anyway?

Riddle_front_new_220I’ve recently been introduced to Raging Swan Press, who produce useful resources for Pathfinder. A lot of their GM resources are actually system-neutral, and as such would be handy for GMs of other systems as well. So What’s the Riddle Like, Anyway? is one such product.

At just $1.99, this little PDF offers several dozen ready-made riddles that you can drop into your game at a moment’s notice. As a GM, I find this sort of resource invaluable. The provided riddles are separated into wordplay and descriptive riddles. Wordplay riddles give clues for the actual letters in the answer, while descriptive riddles describe the object or concept.

There are also two pages about designing riddles and actually using them in a game. This may not sound like much, but I found it refreshing to have important concepts described so succinctly (rather than having to wade through a whole chapter on the subject). Between the short explanation and the sample riddles provided, So What’s the Riddle Like, Anyway? provides an invaluable resource to GMs who don’t have hours to come up with things like riddles.

The layout and formatting of this PDF is also top-notch. In fact, this clean layout was one of the first things I noticed across all of Raging Swan’s products (you can get free samples of most of their products via their website). As with all their products, this one comes with a screen-friendly and a print-friendly version and uses a simple two-column layout with clear, readable fonts. Its unassuming cover hides a wonderful gem of a product for GMs who want to use riddles in their games.

You can pick up this and other Raging Swan products over at Paizo.com, as well as Drive Thru RPG and more.