Mysaniti Cartographers Guild (Subscription)

This is a six month subscription for the Mysaniti Cartographers Guild, you receive six releases once a month on the 20th. You also have access to parts of the Mysaniti library of products. The releases are of maps, tools and catalogs for ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer products. Maps released by the guild are released as PDFs as well as Campaign Cartographer formats.

During the six months of my first subscription some of the things that were released included:
Endless Realm
Ship Builders Toolkit
Journeyman's Toolkit

Endless Realm is an interesting product. It consists of a series of linked maps and each map will have two symbols included. One is a circle that indicates where you enter the map. The second is a portal that is the exit for the map. The Endless Realm release also included tools to add your own maps to the collection. Looking at the maps, I don't think I would play a game based on these maps but the maps are well done and the linking is excellent. For me the biggest benefit was looking at the maps. I learned a lot of valuable techniques from these maps. Reviewing these maps I also learned how to link maps. The quality of the maps in the Endless Realm series is excellent.

Ship Builders Toolkit is a set of tools to build ships. These tools will help you build a sailing ship form a cog to a galleon. The toolkit contains drawing tools like draw bulkhead, draw deck, draw mooring, and draw rigging. I have not used this toolkit yet to draw a ship for my own game but I have used the tools to draw a quick ship interior for a friend. The ship interior was used in a game where I was a player so O could not use all the tools. I was given descriptions of areas of the ship but not purposes for the areas. What I had thought was the ships galley turned out to be a torture chamber my character visited often as the game began. I was impressed with how easy it was to construct the desk of a ship using the tools. When the Ship Builders Toolkit was released a series of catalogs were also released or updated (the product page lists 10 catalogs) the two I found the most useful were the Ship Fittings and Ship Cannon catalogs.

As my first subscription neared an end the Journeyman's Toolkit was released. If you remember the old days of RPG maps where the maps was printed in white on blue on the inside cover of the adventure module you know the type of map this toolkit will help you create. More drawing tools and catalogs are included in the toolkit. I have a love hate relationship with this set of tools. The tools and catalogs work great and in a short time you can get a map created. I love the simplicity of the maps, and whenever I see a map in this style it takes me back to the early days of roleplaying. That would be the love part. What I hate is that I can't use all the other symbols I have purchased for Campaign Cartographer. Those old style maps really only used a couple dozen symbols.

This rocks becasue...
Each month you receive another Campaign Cartographer goodie.

This sucks because...
You might receive something that you can immediately use, but you might get something you don't really want or need.

You should buy this because...
Over the six months of your subscription you will receive a ton of stuff: maps, tools, catalogs.

Final Thoughts
This is a fantastic product. The six releases you get for your subscription will all be top quality. Add in the limited access to the guild library of other releases and you have access to loads of Campaign Cartographer goodies. Buying each release separately would cost a great deal more than buying the subscription. The only thing I would like to see is a longer subscription length.


Welcome to HAEL

52 pages, 47 pages content, 2 cover pages, 2 credits pages, 1 license page

There is a lot of info crammed into the Welcome to HAEL PDF. This is a new campaign world where the war between the Orcs and man is over. On this world the Orcs won. The Orcs and their allies are the dominant races on this world, the Humans and their allies are relegated to outlawed tribes scratching out an existence far from civilization. The world is strongly linked to the related product Psihammer (review coming soon).

A brief history of the world is given, including the war that lead to the dominance of the Orcs. The civilization of the world has shifted. Orcs (called Daeorcs in the setting) have taken the northern part of the world, pushing the Humans and their allies into the barren desert at the equator. Gnolls (called Yaena) have similarly pushed the Humans form the south. The Orcs and Gnolls have both developed into civilized races while the Humans and Halflings society has crumbled. I like how half breed Humans are not accepted by Orcish society. I found that this is a well thought out cultural shift, with the Humans and Halflings of this world filling in a niche that is traditionally filled by the goblins and their ilk in a traditional setting. Recent history beings an alien visitors angle that I am not entirely happy with. There are two alien races that are recent arrivals on the world. These aliens seem to be setting up for another world shaking war. If I were to run a game in this world I am not sure if I would include the aliens.

The next section of the book details the major settlements in the world. This is done with a short stat block and a description of the local areas. There are six major areas detailed. Three in the north and three in the south. Here is also the biggest editing problem. Crossplains is a major location but other than the section heading the name of the area seems to have been changed to Cross Way in the rest of the book. It took me a few moments to make the mental cross reference. A few more maps in this section would have been a great addition to the product.

The races come next detailed in two sections. First come the pure blood races. Orcs (Daeorc), Gnolls(Yaena), Humans, Halflings, and the Kirene. the Orcs become the Daeorcs the primary dominant race. The Gnolls became the Yaena. A society to rival the Daeorcs. Humans and Halflings are the shattered remnants of the once great societies they were. Halflings have a peculiar relationship with the Yaena, serving them as animal trainers. The Kirene are unique to the world of Hael, they fill the void of the elven races that are not part of the world of Hael. The second group of races includes the half-orc, half-human with the new aliens visitors. I liked the treatment of the half-men. The societal impacts of being a half-man in an Orcish dominated world is well thought out. As I stated previously I am not sure how I feel about the aliens. However, even if I do not like them, the alien races are well done and add a new dimension for the world.

Character classes follow the races. Barbarians, Clerics, Fighters, and Paladins are unchanged from the stock rules. Bards have become the Yaena Storytellers and are a large part of the Yaena culture. Druids are also substantially modified and are identified strongly with the Kirene race. Halfling are tied to the Ranger class, a class that reminds me of the rangers found in the Dark Sun setting. Two new monk classes are introduced one specifically for the Daeorc race another for the Yaena. Rogues are also modified, they are presented as a thief that has not been caught yet. Rogues are expected to maintain a very strong illusion that they follow another path. Finally Sorcerers are a class dominated by the Daeorc race, the class is only slightly modified. The biggest modification is a skill that allows sorcerers to share energy and to duel with each other. Wizards are unheard of on the world of Hael. Psionics are also strongly liked to the world, but the psionic rules are not class based rules.

A pantheon of gods is included. There are Orc Gods and Gnoll Gods, I would have liked to see a few Human and Halfling gods included. If there are no Human and Halfling gods left then there should be a story about what happened to them.

A short bestiary of new creatures is included. The creatures included are well designed and in the case of the Varibeast seems to be the defining monster of the setting. Also included is a list of creatures from the SRD that would also be found on the world of Hael.

The last thing included is a single page map of the world. I really dislike the map. It is a simple outline of the continent with picture a picture mask in the background to indicate the type on terrain in an area. So you have an image of a pine forest for the "Many Forests" area and a picture of a mountain for the background of the "Cold Peaks". I found the map to be quite unsatisfying. It did however list all the areas discussed in the book, which is a plus. The only thing not marked on the map is the location of the two alien craft.

Intermixed with the text are comments attributed to "Professor Grumin Tarsh" an Orcish scholar. I found the comments to be well placed and added an excellent bit of "color" to the rules.

This rocks becasue...

It is a well thought out setting that changes the expected society norms you see in 'classic' fantasy world. The races and classes are well thought out to fit a world where Orcs are the dominant race.

This sucks because...

The aliens. I really did not like that aliens added to the setting. I also did not like the quality or quantity of the maps. Another run through for editing would also have made this a much better product (although it is still pretty good).

Edit: I have since gone through the PDF again and this is an unfair criticism. The editing is really quite good, I found a total of three spelling or typos in a 50 page document.

You should buy this because...

You are looking for a new setting that is not the standard elves and Humans dominated world. Or you are looking for a world where magic and psionics are intermixed.

Final Thoughts

I am looking forward to playing a game in this world where the players are all Humans. They would suddenly find themselves the underdogs in a way I don't think they would expect at all.


Deluxe Map Pack

72 Maps in a single pdf and in ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer format.

The maps are a mixed bunch. There is far more interior maps of buildings and dungeons than areas or overland maps. The interior maps are in my opinion much better than the overland maps. The overland maps seems to be too structured, not natural enough. The interior maps have good detail and have good layouts. Too many maps I have seen have some pretty odd interior layouts. The interior maps in this package are not like this, the interior spaces are well considered and thought out. The objects (tables, chairs, etc) are well laid out and "fit" the buildings well.

I did not like the town maps at all. They did not look like towns and they were not maps I would use in my games. Although, to be honest these maps are better than what I produce with Campaign Cartographer. I especially like that the product includes the source maps, allowing me to edit the maps for my own use. Of course this requires that you own ProFantasy's Mapping software.

One thing that is missing is a license. There is no indication of how I can use the maps, for example can I use these maps in my own product? Can I use them in a commercial product?

This rocks becasue...

There are some good maps in this collection and there are a lot of maps total.

This sucks because...

There are too many average maps. Too many maps I would want to edit before I would use them.

You should buy this because...

You need some generic maps to use in your game.

Final Thoughts

The maps in the collection could have been greatly improved by adding some simple things like textured backgrounds. For the price this is a pretty good value, even more so now that the package is on sale. I paid $2.00 USD and the current sale price is $1.50 USD.


Jonny Nexus Compilation

45 pages, 43 pages content, 1 title page, 1 Advertisement and license page

The Articles:

  • Confessions of a Session Amnesiac (Jonny admits to being a session amnesiac, absolute gold and the best article in the collection)
  • Taking Santa Down
  • I think My Game Master Hates Me (I think my game master hates me too, excellent article)
  • You Want to Play a What?
  • Planning - How Not To Do It
  • Dealing With Dumbo (This article is brilliant, I have already tried the techniques in this article to mess with my fellow gamers)
  • Alas Poor Edas, We Knew Him
  • Are You Sure It Happened Like That? (Not my favorite)
  • Say What>?
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 1)
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 2)
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 3)
  • The Quintessential Cheat (Long and complex method of making a uber-character, I did not find this one funny at all)
  • They're Not Like Us, Adventurers
All the articles are good. I particularly liked "Confessions of a Session Amnesiac" and all three "The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying". These got me laughing out loud. They reminded me of the days when I first stumbled onto Critical Miss and spent hours reading the articles, laughing alone on my cubicle at work. I kept expecting the articles to include a reference to BogBoy, Bubba, or TAFKAC. I also had to admit that I identified with these articles because I identified with the content. I could see the people I play with in the articles (and if I were totally honest I would admit I saw myself in the articles as well).

Of all the articles I liked "Are You Sure It Happened Like That?" and "The Quintessential Cheat" the least. I am sure there are people out there that will tell me that that those articles are the best. These articles were not bad, they just were not my favorites.

This rocks becasue...

For those people (like me) that miss the old Critical Miss this is an excellent package of articles form Jonny Nexus. Many of the articles would fit right into an issue of Critical Miss. I laughed out loud while reading several of the articles, they are not all gold but I am sure that others will like what I did not and dislike the articles I liked. The bottom line is that the articles are top notch and if you like Jonny's writing this is a great package for you.

This sucks because...

The articles are ripped directly from the Signs and Portents Magazine. No effort was made to make the articles look alike. There is no table of contents, page numbers are the pages from the original magazine pages. The PDF is also not printer friendly with a lot of images and background textures. One article is even white text on black background. My printer actually whimpered as I printed out, all that ink lost forever.

You should buy this because...

You miss Jonny's writing or you are looking for some top notch role playing humour.

Final Thoughts

The only thing that would make the Jonny Nexus Compilation better would be making some layout changes. Taking the articles and giving them a new layout would have probably made the package much more expensive though. Even removing the background images to make printing the articles would have been a great improvement.

As of Jan 5, 2006 the Jonny Nexus Compilation is listed as "Not Validated For Sale" at RPGNow

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