Monday, June 1, 2009

Review: Level Up Issue 1

After my half day at work, I went by The Game Shoppe quickly.  It was actually the first time I had been by in about a month due to the surgery and stuff.  I had a few things in my in box to include the latest No Quarter Magazine, a few comics I'm currently enjoying (Steven King's The Stand and Dark Tower stories), and Level Up magazine from Goodman Games.  Due to an order mix up, I didn't get the first round ordered so I hadn't actually seen it until today.  Had a chance to read a bit and check out some sections and thought I would give you my thoughts...  You know...  Game content! :)  With out further ado...

The magazine gets an solid 'A' from me.  The cover itself is pretty cool with a picture of Demon Knight (from a template inside).  As wonderful as the cover art is in all its shininess, the interior art is a little more mundane, but I guess you need to show the good stuff on the outside! :)

The magazine seems to have several features that will be used in most (all?) issues.  These include
  • An adventure (5-7 encounters) - This months was a Hill Giant with some Ogres and Dinosaurs.  
  • A player character section that adds some new Paragon Paths and powers 
  • A Bestiary, which expands on the dinosaurs in the adventure
  • A Pantheon expansion, assuming it comes from a Goodman Games world.  It also include new feats, weapons, and Paragon Paths
  • Azagar's Advice a cute take from an imprisoned hobgoblin on what adventures do badly.  It also contains some interesiting feats for each tier that could provide some new fun. 
  • A GM Section.  This one provides 'templates' that you can apply to a creature to make it different.  In this case the demon/devil focus to create things like Demon Knights (Fear the Gnomic Demon Knight!), Hellbeasts, and Hellfire Adepts.  
  • Power Skins is an interesting concept where the flavor text and name of a power are changed to fit a campaign/player style.  Kind of 'techish' in a way, but it is a different approach.
  • An Encounter: A complex encounter with multiple skill checks and combat situation that is furnished with a detailed map.  This one looks pretty involved and is pretty interesting.
  • Short Reviews: Well...  This part was weak.  Really.  I like short reviews, no problem, but when the lowest thing you rank is 4 out of 6 or a 'Solid Product' your average score on the products you reviewed was a 5/6 or 'Great product, a must buy.  You shouldn't be playing with out this!'  Really?  Nothing sucked?  OK.
  • Tool Kit: a quick filler this time that give a quick way to give 'impressive names' to those old enemies.  I liked Tunderpants myself and I'll be sure to name the next Orc leader that!
  • Advise, in the form of Dar Archmage Abby...  Nothing earth shattering here, just the typical gaming advice column.
Not sure which of these will be present from month to month but it does look like a promising start to some solid 4E content.  Plus it is physical.  For being a tech guy, I just can't get my head around the PDF mags.  It is harder to read, I can't take it away from the desk unless I'm willing to pay a ton for printing cartridges.  

If you are a 4E player, or more importantly a 4E GM, consider Level Up, I think you will like it.

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