Review of Primeval Groves
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  1. #1
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    Review of Primeval Groves

    Even though the reviews section is back up, I think this particular book needs a thread because of the problems with it.

    Primeval Groves is a 96 (98 using the inside overs) page supplement on plants. Like all Wanderers Guild books, it starts off with a look at its fictional author, in this case Frondescent Salmagundi, a frolate prontal (I will get back to this race). There are no chapters so I will call the pages with similar material sections.

    It then looks at plant ecology- classification (which includes fungi unfortunately) and relationships such as symbiosis.

    The section that many players should be interested goes over useful, non-monster plants. Many are not typical herbalism plants, but rather ones useful for other needs. The dieooing vine is a fig like parasite that can be used as rope, the omp stems are used for writing and have their own ink, and the surfage weed reduces dazzling effects. There are 36 such plants described.

    The next section are the monster plants, 20 in all. A sample include the briar golem, the dequalm (a parasite that controls its host), the juk (a slime covered fey like plant that converts animals and humanoids into more slime), the kint (a ball that bounces and engulfs prey), the olanth mezzalith (a two headed humanoid shaped plant that has two personalities- one good and the other evil), and the veegamoblis (a template that converts a living non-plant into a plant, it is an infection).

    The next two sections look at classes and a deeper look at druidic groves. The former is roleplaying suggestions and the latter involves magical effects the groves may have. Grove gifts involve spending xp to effectively cast another, specific spell such as entangle within the grove. Also there are druid rituals.

    Next are the green races. They are the burgeonliese (mushroom people), frolate prontal (green gnomes- yup plants that look like gnomes) and the mutarmarl (mulch men who can change their shape and affect their size, ability scores and AC from day to day).

    1 class- the hinterlander (survialist fighter class), and 2 PrCs- the boskite explorer (divine class that studies plants) and the xylomancer (arcane caster that studies plants, but does not warp or control them).

    Spells and power components round out the last two sections. There are 30 spells that run from first to eight level and the most powerful is compost cocoon (which turns a target into soil over time). Most are utility spells. The power components look at the value of plant parts to increase the use of certain spells. Olanth mezzalith brains can be used to improve awaken and a treat branch increases the duration of changestaff and gives the result the ability to speak to treants.

    And now for the controversy. It turns out that a draft of the book was printed instead of the final product. It has many editing errors, mostly duplicated sentence fragments and grammatical errors. The worst is the chart for the xylomancer is replaced by that of the boskite explorer. Several sections have few, if any errors (like the spells and useful plants).

    Goodman has put out errata that fixes all of this. It is annoying, but it definately does not make the book useless. In fact I find it more interesting and useful than Creatures of the Endless Dark. And thus I give it a 4. Without the errata, I would have given it a 3.

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    How does Goodman Games enjoy a good reputation on these boards when they keep producing products that are so poorly edited? Mongoose has rightfully taken a lot of abuse for its errors (but has made great strides in fixing them) whereas these clowns keep putting out substandard stuff and yet nobody seems to call them on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMH
    Even though the reviews section is back up, I think this particular book needs a thread because of the problems with it.
    Thanks for pointing this out. Though your review lists the contents of the book quite extensively, it's not clear to me which sections you thought were well done and which ones needed a bit of work. From your score I can guess that you found the ideas quite good overall?

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    It would be easier to mention the sections I didn't like- the planet ecology section is bland, the rituals are rather typical, and the xylomancer and hinterlander have been done better in other books (AEG's Wilds has the green mage for example). The races, power components and spells are its strongest features IMO.

    I forgot to mention the art- I love it and either you will love or hate it. I hope to see more of Purdy's work in future WG books.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imruphel
    How does Goodman Games enjoy a good reputation on these boards when they keep producing products that are so poorly edited? Mongoose has rightfully taken a lot of abuse for its errors (but has made great strides in fixing them) whereas these clowns keep putting out substandard stuff and yet nobody seems to call them on it.
    I think it has to do with content over editing. Name one book from Mongoose that is extremely original. All their settings are licenses and the rest is either collected OGC or class books of some sort. Goodman's Complete Guide, Wanderers Guild and Broncosaurus Rex books take material into a new direction. BR was the first setting without spellcasters (AFAIK) and Morningstar has some very interesting stuff that can be used in other, magical settings. I am not saying everything from Goodman is good, but it tends to be more interesting than stuff from Mongoose and Fast Forward, all IMO.

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    I could be mistaken, but I believe with this book, that Goodman also offered to refund the user's money if they sent the book in at the time. Someone would have to dig up a similiar thread to this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMH
    (snip)I think it has to do with content over editing. Name one book from Mongoose that is extremely original. All their settings are licenses and the rest is either collected OGC or class books of some sort.
    I wouldn't defend Mongoose other than from the perspective of owning up to their mistakes. The Book of Immortals was pretty original and I like what I have read so far. Conan may have been a licensed property but, IMO, they did a good job with some flavourful mechanics once the abysmal editing was fixed.

    Goodman's Complete Guide, Wanderers Guild and Broncosaurus Rex books take material into a new direction.
    What was so original in the Complete Guide to the Underdark (which is the only CG product that I have the misfortune of owning)? It's basically a hybrid of 3E and 3.5E rules (poor editing) sprinkled liberally with sloppy game design (ah, yes, the dozens of new BAB and saving throw progressions that serve no purpose) and with less inspiration that a PDF copy of 1E's Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. Unless, of course, you think that radiation-based magic is a radical piece of game design>

    I am not saying everything from Goodman is good, but it tends to be more interesting than stuff from Mongoose and Fast Forward, all IMO.
    Fast Forward? They're broke so they're not a good example. Mongoose: I would have agreed with you but have felt that the Conan books have been generally very good (again, once the atrocious first cut of the core book is replaced).

    Anyway, let's just say that, IMO, Goodman Games does not deserve the good reputation that it seems to have. Malhavoc, Green Ronin, Fantasy Flight Games: they're the names that deserve the good reputations that they have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Imruphel
    I wouldn't defend Mongoose other than from the perspective of owning up to their mistakes. The Book of Immortals was pretty original and I like what I have read so far. Conan may have been a licensed property but, IMO, they did a good job with some flavourful mechanics once the abysmal editing was fixed.

    Anyway, let's just say that, IMO, Goodman Games does not deserve the good reputation that it seems to have. Malhavoc, Green Ronin, Fantasy Flight Games: they're the names that deserve the good reputations that they have.
    It may also be volume. Mongoose has produced around 200+ d20/OGL books, while Goodman has produced less than 50. (I'm approximating here.)

    Also, the threads I've seen lately regarding Mongoose have been pretty positive - especially with their Conan line (after their initial mistake with its first printing) and B5 line.

    One other factor that might be involved (though I do not know him personally) is that people whose opinions I value have said some very nice things about Joseph Goodman himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Imruphel
    How does Goodman Games enjoy a good reputation on these boards when they keep producing products that are so poorly edited? Mongoose has rightfully taken a lot of abuse for its errors (but has made great strides in fixing them) whereas these clowns keep putting out substandard stuff and yet nobody seems to call them on it.
    Well, the first two monsters books were really good and creative. I found few errors in them. But the big reason is the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC), people know them and really like them. Sure some their releases like the Underdark book were not their best; but not as many people have seen or read it. When you talk about Goodman Games, you talk about the DCC. And maybe Blackmoor but I haven't seen that one either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Imruphel
    What was so original in the Complete Guide to the Underdark (which is the only CG product that I have the misfortune of owning)?
    1) There is no Complete Guide to the Underdark. It is the Underdark Adventure Giude and not part of the CG series. The errors are the reason I didn't mention it in my previous post.

    2) You own only one GG product and base your comments on it? I own 10 and can see the range of editing that he produces and most of them are no worse than Bastion, MEG, and Atlas. I haven't seen any of them being called out on their editing.

    Anyway, let's just say that, IMO, Goodman Games does not deserve the good reputation that it seems to have. Malhavoc, Green Ronin, Fantasy Flight Games: they're the names that deserve the good reputations that they have.
    There are a lot more smaller companies that deserve that as well.

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    That is another point why you don't hear much about Goodman Games verse Mongoose; size. The bigger the company the more you hear about it and how it is talked about on message boards.

    And I liked the Underdark book, it had some cool ideas in it and it relaly offered something different with radiiation options.

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