PDA

View Full Version : At a Glance Review of Feudal Lords



Matthew
2007-11-21, 11:40 PM
For your consideration...



--------------------------------------------------------------------------


At a Glance Review of Feudal Lords

Feudal Lords is a D20 Fantasy Campaign Setting developed by Alea Publishing Group. It envisages a dark age low magic setting and a politically fragmented monotheistic society that strongly parallels early medieval europe. The number of supplements released for it has been very small, but several of them are free, the rest are inexpensive and itís a setting that holds some interest for me. Maps of Cthonia, the Hill Lands, the City of Argos and Hilltop Keep can be obtained from the Alea Publishing Group Homepage (http://www.aleapublishing.com/downloads.shtml). According to the forum announcement (http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=211498), the Player's Guide to Feudal Lords is due for completion in the next few months.



The Chronicles of Yrza the Crow (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=3714&it=1)

This serves as an introduction to the world of Terra and the Feudal Lords Campaign Setting. It takes the form of a chronicle, supposedly compiled by Yrza the Crow at the request of Lord Havishem of Willshire, and describes the world in general terms, before describing specific localities in Cthonia, which appears to be the core of the setting. Essentially, what is described is an exaggerated analogue of post Carolingian Europe with crusades, inquisitors, magic and Orcs included for good measure. The prevalent religion is monotheistic, with the polytheistic deities of the past being appropriated as saints and angels or condemned as demons, though they are still worshipped as deities in more barbarous lands. The last two pages of the document describe some rules changes for the setting.
Conceptually, I really like the Feudal Lords Campaign Setting and the stated aims of the company in this document are laudable. However, as one might expect with a small company, there were a number of grammatical and editorial mistakes. Furthermore, the product run has been short so far and their electronic magazine seems to have ceased production; still, the company is showing signs of adapting to the climate and impending release of Dungeons & Dragons 4e.

PDF Quality: Both portrait and landscape versions provided, clean, easily readable and searchable, but not bookmarked; each has a printer friendly companion document. The landscape version is intended to be folded into a booklet.
Cover Art: Good to Professional, plain faux leather, only provided for the landscape version (colour)
Interior Art: Good to Professional, some reworked classical art (black and white), map and bordered pages (colour)
Contents: 1 front and back cover, 0.5 title and credit page, 1 OGL and OGC page, 0.5 map page and 13 pages of content (landscape version); 0.5 title and credit page, 1 page of maps, 9.5 pages of content and 2 pages of OGL and OGC.
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=52) (2005)
Retail Price: $0.00 [$0.00]
Mattís Rating: 4 out of 5
Independent Rating: Unrated



A Question of Honour Ė Game Expansion (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=28866&it=1)

This Game Enhancement was released both to preview and supplement A Question of Honour Ė A Guidebook to Knights. It presents a five level prestige class, four feats, one spell, awakened magical item rules, three magic items, four charms, two non player characters and a map of Hilltop Keep. Itís not clear to me exactly which parts are drawn from the sourcebook and which are enhancement, but the introduction seems to indicate that the non player characters and awakened magical items probably make up the bulk of the new material.
The Squire prestige class seems like the kind of thing I really dislike; it reinforces the notion that levels are like a career path, which I feel undermines their purpose. However, the mechanics of the class seem okay to me. The spell and feats are interesting enough and the magic items seem reasonable. The charms seem quite fun, relying on a character failing his willpower saving throw to work properly. The non player characters suffer the usual D20 problem of being long on stats and comparatively short on personality, but itís nice to have them.
The thing that worries me about this product is that for all the talk of a low magic and feudal setting, it seems there are plenty of magic items around and plenty of powerful non player characters around. In the context of D20, that may be unavoidable, but I have to admit I was hoping for a more low level affair.

PDF Quality: Portrait, clean, easily readable and searchable, but not bookmarked or printer friendly, 12 pages.
Cover Art: Good to Professional, borrows from classical art (colour)
Interior Art: Good, borrows from classical art (colour)
Contents: 1 front cover, 1 title and credit page, 6 pages of content, 1 map page, 1 OGL page, 1 OGC page and 1 back cover
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=52) (2003?)
Retail Price: $0.00 [$0.00]
Mattís Rating: 4 out of 5
Independent Rating: Unrated



Orc Culture in the Hill Lands (http://www.aleapublishing.com/downloads.shtml)

This document seems to have been released before the revised Dungeons & Dragons Playerís Handbook. It describes the general behaviour of the Orcs in the Hill Lands in a fairly recognisable way and provides statistics for typical encounters. It also makes reference to A Question of Honour Ė A Guidebook to Knights and the campaign area that supplement describes. As with the Chronicles of Yrza the Crow there are a number of grammatical and editorial errors in this document and the writing style could use improvement.
In general, I donít like the tendency of modern fantasy to humanise the monstrous, so this supplement did little to inspire me. As far as it goes, however, it seems like a useful addition to the Feudal Lords milieu. The Orcs of Terra are further described in issues 5-7 of the Poor Gamerís Almanac (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?cPath=4027), which can also be obtained for free from RPGNow.

PDF Quality: Portrait, clean, easily readable and searchable, but not bookmarked or printer friendly, 7 pages.
Cover Art: No cover
Interior Art: Average, 1 image of an Orc (black and white), two small maps (colour)
Contents: 1 title and credit page, 4 pages of content, 1 OGL page and 1 OGC page
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=52) (2003?)
Retail Price: $0.00 [$0.00]
Mattís Rating: 3 out of 5
Independent Rating: Unrated



Honour and Corruption (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2776&it=1)

This is an optional rules supplement for D20 Fantasy, though it could reasonably be adapted for other systems. It introduces a new mechanic to measure the honour of a character, or lack thereof. Aside from rules for the effects of honour, it also presents two new races, two new sub classes and fourteen new feats, all of which are themed around the concept of honour and corruption. These rules do lean on previous supplements published by Alea and appear to have been crafted with their Feudal Lords Campaign Setting particularly in mind. As with their other products, there are a fair number of grammatical and editorial errors in this document and the writing style occasionally leaves something to be desired.
The mechanics themselves are quite interesting. Honour points, which appear to be gained at a reasonable rate, can be spent on a number of things, from items to instant special abilities, but only once per game session, which is rather a neat power up. The corruption mechanic, on the other hand, is more linear and not as well developed; ultimately, a character who reaches -10 honour points acquires the fiendish template. The races are interesting, but seem somewhat unbalanced, both with one another and the default races, whilst the feats are typical of this sort of supplement. Though the idea is not new to this supplement, what I really like is the concept of sub classes; basically, they are upgrades for classes that impose an experience point penalty. The idea is innovative and has a lot of potential, but I would like to have seen it better implemented here. Nevertheless, the production values are high and I thought that this was an interesting supplement.

PDF Quality: Portrait, clean, easily readable, searchable and bookmarked, but not printer friendly, 32 pages.
Cover Art: Good to Professional, borrows from classical art (colour)
Interior Art: Good to Professional, borrows from classical art (colour)
Contents: 1 cover page, 1 advert page, 1 contents and credit page, 26 pages of contents, 2 OGL pages and 1 back cover page
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=52)
Retail Price: $3.95 [$3.95]
Mattís Rating: 4 out of 5
Independent Rating: 4 out of 5



Honour and Corruption Ė Quests Game Expansion (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2776&it=1)

This free Game Enhancement was released to provide additional content for the Honour and Corruption optional rules supplement. It contains five quest outlines, one new feat, two new prestige classes, three new spells and five new magical item properties. Much like the product it supplements, there are a number of editorial and grammatical errors evident in the text, but the production values are otherwise good.
The quest ideas presented here are a good example of how to integrate the honour mechanic into the game, but they do strike me as somewhat unsuited for group play; the prestige classes are okay, though the base attack bonus progression would probably deter me from selecting one for a martial character, and I am not sure about the suitability of some of the game mechanics involved. The feat, spells and magic item properties are thematically appropriate, though I wonder about weapons that can increase or decrease a targetís honour. Talk about the redeeming power of violence!

PDF Quality: Portrait, clean, easily readable, searchable and bookmarked, but not printer friendly, 11 pages.
Cover Art: No cover
Interior Art: Good to Professional, borrows from classical art (colour)
Contents: 1 contents and credit page, 8 pages of material, 2 OGL pages and 1 back cover page
Publisher: Alea Publishing Group (http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=52)
Retail Price: $0.00 [$0.00]
Mattís Rating: 4 out of 5
Independent Rating: Unrated



http://www.aleapublishing.com/images/product_1960.jpg http://www.aleapublishing.com/images/product_2480.jpg
http://www.rpgnow.com/images/products/product_2253.jpg http://www.aleapublishing.com/Images/HonorCorr_th.jpg http://www.rpgnow.com/images/52/3714.jpg



Unreviewed Material

[Base Class] Household Knight (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=3556&it=1) ($1.00)
[Sub Class] Crusader (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=18952&it=1) ($1.00)
[Sub Class] Alchemist (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=19083&it=1) ($1.00)
[Sub Class] Alchemist (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=19899&it=1) ($1.00)
[Rules Supplement] Professions (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=19122&it=1) ($1.00)
[Rules Supplement] Legacy (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=19299&it=1) ($1.00)
[Rules Supplement] Insanity (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2879&it=1) ($1.00)
[Rules Supplement] Mind Craft (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=2603&it=1) ($4.95)
[Campaign Supplement] Caldor - City of Crossroads (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=25613&it=1) ($5.95)
[Adventure]The Shew Stone (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=50669) ($5.95)




--------------------------------------------------------------------------

...and that's your lot. Let me know if you found these reviews useful or whatever.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Index of Reviews (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3552310)
Index of Free Stuff (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3550807&postcount=63)

Labyrinth Lord (http://www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.htm)
OSRIC (http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/osric/)

Fight On and Otherworld Adventure Competition (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4317636&postcount=1)

bosssmiley
2007-11-22, 01:12 PM
Could you perhaps add a one sentence 'unique selling point' sum up for the hard-of-concentrating please. From the capsule review I read it as "Carolingian d20". Would that be a fair assessment?

Matthew
2007-11-24, 02:34 PM
Hmmn. It's really more of a post Carolingian fantasy setting. The main selling point that Alea seem to suggest is its compatability with real world history, but I'm not sure that's really something that attracts me about it. How about something like 'low magic dark age feudal fantasy for D20'? To take the 4e rhetoric on board, it could probably be described as a 'points of light' campaign setting. I will add something to that effect in the introductary notes.

Review Updated

Added two more reviews, a bit more exposition and some pictures.
Added two more reviews and a few bits and pieces here and there.