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Libris Personae Volume 1 $15.00
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Libris Personae Volume 1
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Libris Personae Volume 1
Publisher: Octavirate Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2006 00:00:00

Libris Personae Volume 1 is a book of NPCs from Octavirate Games. The zipped file is somewhat large, being slightly over twenty megabytes in size, and contains a single PDF file, which a few megs larger. The PDF is one-hundred-six pages long, with two pages for the covers, one for the OGL, two for the credits/legal, one for the table of contents, and one for a quirky little comic at the end of the book. The table of contents isn?t hyperlinked, but the product does have full bookmarks.

As far as artwork goes, this book is fairly rich with it. The covers are full-color, and while there are no page borders, virtually every character has a piece of art in here. Some of the artwork is black-and-white, while other pieces are a stunning full-color rendition. Unfortunately, there?s no printer-friendly version of this book, meaning that you may have to think twice about printing this out.

The myriad NPCs in Libris Personae all fall under one of five broad categories. The first is a demonic cult of gnolls. Supposedly lead by the champion of their demon-god, this cult is actually masterminded by their shaman, who conducts breeding experiments to create a champion for his tribe. However, at least one previous champion has gone awry, and is now trying to live a better life with the cult?s foes.

The second group, The Sellswords, was my favorite. An all-female acting troupe, these women come to town and put on a very burlesque show about how men who go adventuring find piles of riches, incredible fame, and an endless stream of beautiful women. And while it?s certainly disruptive to a local town when the men-folk all go get killed on half-cocked adventuring ideas after seeing this show, The Sellswords actually have a much darker purpose in mind?

The Scaleblades are a group of reptilian adventurers. Brought together by disparate circumstances, they now adventure together, though they?re not all after the same thing.

The Vortaelen Cartography League is a multi-planar institute of explorers, and is also the largest single group of NPCs in this book. A colorful cast of characters are presented with all range of alignments and motivations, though by necessity these are less intricately tied together than most of the other groups presented here. While all are technically part of the Cartography League, many (if not most) of them use that as a front for their true desires.

The last grouping is a relative hodge-podge of characters. While a few are interconnected, most of these NPCs serve as singular encounters, such as the half-fiendish treant, or the identical goblin twins.

It?s worth noting that the sidebars that describe new magic items are highly plentiful. More than half of the characters here have a new associated magic item, though oddly they?re nearly all called out as minor artifacts, despite having clear magic item creation guidelines.

The book?s first appendix gives an additional amount of new crunch, with three new spells, two new deities, and four new monsters. Of course, all of these relate back to characters mentioned previously, giving more generic options for your campaign. The second appendix gives a large able cross-indexing the various characters with Open Content variant rules, something Octavirate is famous for.

In conclusion, Libris Personae Volume 1 presents a highly diverse cast of characters, ranging from humorous to sinister, heroic to monstrous, in nature. Whether as allies, adversaries, or sources of adventure, there?s definitely some here for you in your game, and the expanded optional rules information makes sure that remains true no matter what breed of d20 you play. While there are some minor issues here (such as how the ?minor artifacts? are magic items, and the lack of a printer-friendly version), Libris Personae is a clear winner in the characters it introduces. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: There are many tings to like about this product. The excellent artwork, the innovative character designs, the overflowing new crunch material. This is a product that does a very good job in how it's presented.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: It was rather odd how the magic items, which had the basic magic item creation rules given, were called "minor artifacts" so much. Also, a printer-friendly version would have been helpful, considering how much art is in here.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Libris Personae Volume 1
Publisher: Octavirate Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2006 00:00:00

After my first time flipping through Octavirate Entertainment?s Libris Personae, I asked myself, where were you at last week. There was just a lot more variety of NPCs in this book than I have seen in other publications.

NPC books can be helpful in a pinch and depending on which one, you have your good ones with useful NPCs and your bad ones that are a majority of creative mistakes. Libris Personae falls closer to the good side of that line. What makes it different is that instead of producing individual NPCs, the 106 page PDF presents you four very distinct mercenary groups with 36 NPCs between them. The NPCs within the group are fairly different with the kind of minor distinctions that have the potential of giving an NPC staying power. The writing emphasizes the character of the NPCs, and whereas the stat builds are decent, it is the personalities of the characters that make them more useful.

There is not too much emphasis put on setting which makes most of them easy to drop anywhere. The builds of the characters are decent, with a number of PDF only content used to make them distinct. The good thing is that nothing is over the top. All too often with a book of NPCs, there are a ton of good mega villains or mega heroes, but few basic adversaries, rivals and allies.

One of my favorite features of the book is not the NPCs themselves but the artwork attached to them. Though there is not a consistent art style, all of the art is consistently good. I would say a few pictures border on work appropriate, but you really get a lot from the personality of the characters with them.

A cool thing the writers added with one of the appendix. Sure there?s a cool appendix of monsters and spells, but it is the second appendix that is eye catching. There is a chart that of the NPCs and various stats for variants applied to them. For instance, I use armor as DR in my Egyptian campaign, there is a column listing each NPCs AC and dr under this variant. I also use a spell point variant which it also contains. They also contain stats for wounds/vitality, defense bonus, action points, magic rating, reputation, honor, taint, sanity and sanity loss.

For the Dungeon Master

There are a lot of niches these NPCs can fill in a campaign. Obviously the rival mercenary group is a given, but they also can be used as spot villains, helpful tavern folk and personal guards (what I used one of them for). Though I was not too much a fan of the Cult of the Gnoll, Vortaelen Cartography members more than make up for them. This was a very creative idea. It is an adventuring company that sets up shop in various libraries across the planes, making them useful and accessible in almost any location your PCs may find themselves. I have already snagged one for my players whom are venturing in the Astral Plane for the first time. The writers seemed as excited as I would about this group as they have a lot more print space and a ton more detail. In all honesty, this book could contain only this group and the adversaries and still be worth it. Consider the other three groups thrown in for good filler.

The Iron Word

Publishers whom are just putting books out using the same ole formats and mega NPCs should take notice. You do not have to invent personal classes and items for every NPC in the book and you certainly should try to think outside the box.. Octavirate has managed to ink out a unique publication in a crowded market by making innovations on the product in both style and artwork.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: - artwork has a lot of personality. It is not just an addition but apart of the character write up

  • a chart of variants is the kind of out of the box idea that really makes a publication stand out
  • the npcs are not over the top and are very usable. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: - the additional spells and monsters did nothing for me
  • some of the earlier mercenary groups are not as written as the two latter ones<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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