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Concerning Andrew Thiesen's letter in Tome #4 regarding the "silent kill" skill ["Shadowy Cloaks and Silent Daggers," Tome #3]:

A very good point. I included this skill to add to the flavour of the article (who hasn't seen a cloak-and-dagger movie where the hero sneaks up behind an unsuspecting guard, twists his head in an unhealthy way, and silently lowers him to the ground?), though even while I was writing it I was of two minds about it. On the one hand, the Silent Kill skill seems be a natural addition to the genre (the same thing goes with Interrogation, Cryptography (i.e., Codemastery), and the numerous gizmos that seem to be a part of every spy's repertoire). On the other, the skill is rather unbalancing, and possibly unnecessary, for many of the reasons which you mention. Bearing that in mind, I decided to include it for completeness' sake, since I am sure there are roleplaying groups out there who, for whatever reason, insist on that sort of thing. Perhaps not the ideal solution, I admit, but one that I think does not detract from the article overall.

Of course, the core point of this (rather long) response is that the DM should be the final arbiter as to which skills, classes, and spells ought to be available in a campaign, and I would hope that anyone thinking of incorporating my guide into their own core rules would carefully review the article, and modify it as appropriate. If that means dropping the Silent Kill skill, then by all means do so; it's only one skill, and the whole package does not change much at all in doing so. Personally, I would add a small caveat to that skill, to the effect that it is a potentially unbalancing skill, and that players who insist on having it should be aware that their enemies will have access to it, as well. DMs should exercise extreme caution in allowing this skill into their games.

Getting back to your point, however, it would be perfectly reasonable to modify the skill to match your suggestions; Silent Kill could instead provide the character with a free round of attacks, done silently. In my own campaigns, I would probably either not allow the skill, or modify it in some manner to make it less potentially unbalancing.

- Geoff Gander

Regarding Tim Weiser's Centaur ["Shadow World: The Art of Tim Weiser, part 3," Tome #3]; I like the style and the shading. But Tim has made a common error with modern artists: he hasn't studied horses - the legs in particular are not correct. Horses don't have knees as such but a stronger upper leg tapering down. Sorry, but I was a very "horse-y" girl, and I used to spend hours drawing horses! (Not that I can draw anything else!)

- Hayley Hummerston

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- Kevin Turner
-Jennifer Guerra

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