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The Thaumaturge
Publisher: DYS Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 08:16:14

I am a sucker for new classes, especially magic-using classes. So I was very pleased to hear that Matthew Skail was releasing a new class designed to replace the magic-user in OSR games.
The Thaumaturge is a 20-level spell casting class in 10 pages for any OSR-like game.


The main feature of the titular class is their non-Vancian spell casting system. Now I will admit that I am a fan of Vancian magic. It is part and parcel of playing D&D in my mind. That being said I have experimented with a number of non-Vancian and spell-point enabled systems over the years. But I keep coming back to Vancian magic. The Thaumatuge is a well thought out class though and the system has merit. There is a bit of 3.0 in this class' DNA, namely extensive use of the ability modifiers, but not so much as to drive away die hard Grognards.


The class is well written and could easily be dropped into any OSR game. In fact I think such things should be encouraged; different lands should have different types of magics.


The main feature of this class though is not just the spell-point system, but rather a system that gives the magic-user the means to do some dice-rolling just like the melee types. Having seen this more in 4th and 5th edition for arcane types, this is not something to be underestimated. People love to roll the dice to see if they hit or, in this case, a spell's success. There is even something in this that I normally call a "repeated casting modifier" (called Overcasting here). The idea of the "Mastered Spell" is also a nice one. Again, nothing we all have not seen elsewhere, but still nice to have in one place.


Since this is designed to replace the standard Magic-User it still uses Intelligence as the primary ability. I think though a strong case could be made to replace that with Charisma and make it a unique class. They can use the same spells as the Magic-user does, much like how the magic-user and elf can in Basic, or the Wizard and Sorcerer in 3rd edition.


There are also a couple of new spells and some new magic items. All for less money than a 20oz bottle of soda and a bag of chips.


There are some formatting issues with the document. Page numbers would also be nice and I'd put in a manual page break over Optional Rules.


Thoughts on Expansion
While reading this I could not help but think that is actually two classes. First, there is the stated design goal, an augmentation of the magic-user class. But there is also a completely new class here as well. We can call them the Thaumaturgic Wizard and the Thaumaturge respectively. Now on paper there is no real difference here, but the concept opens up new possibilities.
The Thaumaturgic Wizard implies there can be Thaumaturgic Clerics, Thaumaturgic Illusionists or even a Thaumaturgic Witch.

The Thaumaturge, however, is a different sort of caster. To go with the dictionary definition of Thaumaturgy you would almost need to add a little bit of clerical power to them without necissarily invoking some diety. Or at least a couple of the cleric's spells. Again, I'd base his spellcasting ability on Charisma at this point and make him something like a counterpoint to the witch.


This class as written would also gain some benefit from some of the ritual casting as presented in Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos. If you use spell points then places of power is a nice logical extension.


I have to say there is a lot of ideas here, certainly more than it's page count suggests.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Thaumaturge
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Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos
Publisher: DOM Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2016 15:13:34

The newest supplement for Dark Albion is now out, Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos. With a name like that how can I possibly say no?


A bit of history, I worked with author Dominique Crouzet quite a bit back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I know what sort of thing he likes (or at least liked) in this area, so I know I was going to be pre-disposed to like this. Kasimir Urbanski is also the author and his contributions were going to be a bit more of a mystery. But I liked Dark Albion so my expectations were pretty good. Like Dark Albion, this book can be played with any flavor of D&D you like. It is simple enough and light enough on the "crunch" it can actually be played with just about any RPG really. While reading I Was thinking about it in terms of Pendragon, Cthulhu Britanica and other games.


Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos is the cults and cult-like groups book for the Dark Albion campaign setting/rules. The book itself is 92 pages (94 with covers). This includes 2 pages of character sheets, a cult sheet and the ogl. Minus title page and various bits we are looking at 80+ pages of solid content.
The art is all black and white and is a mix of newer art and woodcut designs. I am rather fond of the woodcuts myself, I love seeing these in books. I recognize a number of pieces as belonging to Dominique; so he is one of the artists as well as one of the authors.
The first part of the book deals with the cults. In particular their size, composition, what social class they come from (very important really) and of course their motivations and where their secret lair might be. Life of the cultist within the cult is also detailed to a degree. Enough anyway to get you thinking more about them. In particular what they do in the cult, why they might have joined and possible mutations. That one needs some more explaining.
Some cults are so exposed to the forces of Chaos that their cultist can begin to mutate. A great idea that I am glad to see here. Dom and I did something similar for Warlocks back in my 3.0 edition of my Witch book. So immediately I grabbed on that as something to use. The idea though has a lot of traction. There are similar ideas in Lamentations of the Flame Princess and I believe Dungeon Crawl Classics.
The next section covers running advnetures involving these cults. Obviously these cults are not menat to be a one-time adversary. They are meant to be reoccuring antagonists and potentially even the "Big Bads" of your game. This includes a number of NPCs, mostly normal level humans, that are involved in the their cults. Don't assume though that "0 Level" = powerless. Nobility wield a lot of power regardless of level, a noble in a cult can be very bad for a party of adventurers.
I might as well acknowledge the inclusion of the "Frog Cults". I still think "Frogland" is kind of dumb to be honest, but I don't mind these cults at all. In fact wasn't "Temple of the Frog" the first real adventure played in D&D and certainly one of the first ever published. The "Keepers of the Frogs" from Blackmoor could certainly fit as a DA cult.


Packed amongst all of this information are also tables of rumors and other information PCs can learn. I thought of this as the "Scooby Doo" section of the book; the PCs split up and search for clues.


We next get some sample cults and some examples of some cults in various dungeon settings. These are split up into low, medium and high level.


The appendicies are very interesting and include a section on Elves in Albion. This section reminded me a bit of a similar direction given in Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum. Indeed, one could use both books together to get a large, more detailed picture of the elves/fae/sidhe. DA tends to be low-fantasty compared to the C&S High(er) Fantasy. Still in niether case are these "D&D Elves", they still have more incommon with the likes Obereon, Titania and Puck than Tanis or Legolas.


The next appendix details a score cults of various types. All ready to drop in your game. The last appendix details sorcerery and chaos and the strange things that can happen when they mix.
We end with a cult creation sheet and a character sheet. The character sheet should be offered for free download, I think people would like it.


All in all a fun book. There is nothing here we have not seen before in one form or another, but to have it all one place with this particular presentation is great. I am reminded a bit of the old Witches and Pagans book from White Wolf that covered similar territory. I even pulled out my Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade to see if this would work well enough with it. It would take some work, but it could be done.


What strikes me most is how easiy it is to integrate this into any game you like. The crunch that exsists is easily converted. Since a lot of the die rolling deals with tables and their results, conversion is a simple process.


I mentioned in the past that Dark Albion is particularily friendly to Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Using a page from DA:CoC one could easily add DA style elves (and of course their cults) into the world of AS&SH. AS&SH style witches and warlocks seem particularily suited for the the chaos magic of DA.


In the end I thought this was a fun purchase. Glad to have it and glad to mine some ideas from it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos
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Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 15:02:54

A while back I reviewed the Crimson Dragon Slayer game. I had some nitpicks with it but overall I liked it. This new Crimson Dragon Slayer, version 1.11, is a little different. IT is free, and if you bought the old one you can also get a combine version for the price of a click.


This "new" game streamlines CDS into a game that can be setup, taught and play begins in one hour.Not a small feat really. The new game distils everything that made the first CDS different and makes it work. The die system revolves around a d6 set of rolls, sometime 1d6, 2d6 or 3d6 (or even a 4d6) depending on the difficulty or even the new 0d6.


Everything is stipped down. Three basic races (human, elf, dwarf) and four classes (warrior, cleric, wizard, thief). Everything from combat to leveling up is designed to be simple. I see the same design philosophy here that I see in other stream-lined games. There is enough here to really attach some very interesting ideas to not counting the built in campaign view. There is even a simple 3-page adventure to get your characters from level 1 to level 2.


There is still some work that needs to be done before this is a full product but so far there is a lot of promise here. I am very interested in seeing where this goes and what sort of options are available for higher levels. Right now the game is very fast and open and has a lot of potential.


For the right crowd of gamers this would make for a great afternoon diversion and for others it would become their game of choice. For the price you really can't beat it.


I think there are somethings here (and the promise of others) that I could steal for my own OSR games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11
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Baby Bestiary Handbook Vol 1
Publisher: Metal Weave Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 14:37:34

Andreas Walters has put together a fantastic book that is part monster manual, part field guide, part ecology book and a huge part art book.


The book is a densely packed 81 full-color pages. Easily one of the best-looking books to be nominated for an ENnie. Each monster description comes with details on what the young of each monster is called (a baby Hippocampus is known as a "fry" for example), how hard it is to train the young and other vital facts such as danger and intelligence levels.


The book would make for a great coffee table book really and I hope there is a nice leatherbound option in the future collecting both volumes.
Of course, the obvious choice here is the older gamer that has kids that LOVE monster books.
I have forgotten how many times I have had to go on rescue missions to my kids rooms to find my D&D books. I still have a Pathfinder book that I can't account for in fact! For younger kids a "baby monster" game, ala Pokemon, gotta catch them all, would be fantastic.
Since there is little to no "crunch" in this book it is compatible with a wide variety of games. Play your favorite game, use this book as your guide and go monster hunting with your kids.


In any case, this is a really fun book and I am really looking forward to Volume 2.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baby Bestiary Handbook Vol 1
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Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Publisher: Growling Door Games, Inc.
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/14/2016 12:06:39

M love for Chill is WELL documented. When everyone else was playing Call of Cthulhu (and watching their characters go mad or die) I was playing Chill (and watching my characters die). Or more to the point I was creating elaborate scenarios involving SAVE. I loved Pacesetter Chill and even drove out to the old Mayfair Games warehouse to score a brandnew hardcover a few years back. I own pretty much everything for Chill and even Rotworld/Cryptworld/Majus.


On to the product as hand.
Chill: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a 46 page "Quickstart". It has everything you need to play the game now except for people, dice and some tokens. Don't have 10-sided dice? Fine, get a deck of cards, remove the royals, put all the black suits in one deck and all the red in another. Shuffle them. When you need to roll choose a black card and a red card. Count tens as "0" and aces as "1". Save the face cards, the royals, for your tokens.


With this Quickstart author +Matthew McFarland has distilled Chill down to it's essence. It's a game about fighting the Unknown. There are a couple of pages devoted to the mechanics of the game; find a target number, roll that or under. Avoid botches (doubles over) but hope for a Colossal Success (roll doubles and under). Tokens are also covered.


An overview of the character sheet comes next breaking down the Attributes, Skills, Edges, Drawbacks and where you record damage. There is also a spot for The Art, or some magical/psychic abilities. This edition seems to focus a bit more on this than the previous, normal-human-centric point of view of the previous, but that will wait for a full reveiw.


This makes up the first half-dozen or so pages. The next dozen covers Combat and The Art. Combat is just another type of test/roll and The Art are "fancy" skills. The nice thing is when one system is learned the rest are easily picked up.


The rest of the book is the adventure. I don't want to give out any spoilers for potential players, but the adventure is a classic one for Chill. What kind of adventures are good for Chill? Well anything you might see on "Supernatural", "Grimm", "Kolchak" or "The X-Files" would make for a great Chill game, but also the stories you told as kids about the haunted house, or the mean old neighbor lady or the monster in the sewers.


The quickstart includes some characters to get you up and running fast. There are maps, artifacts and investigation sheet to make this feel like a real investigation into the paranormal, or what Chill calls The Unknown. Enough background is given on SAVE to make it interesting and to make you want to know more.


For the price you can't beat it. If you ever told a scary story to others with a flashlight under your chin, dared a friend to go into a "haunted house" or watched a Hammer Horror film then this is a great game for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
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Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
Publisher: Moebius Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2016 12:58:48

The Vile Witch is the newest class for Mazes & Perils.
Before I talk about the class I want to give a shout out to cover artist Jacob Blackmon. Another great witchy creation from him.


The Vile Witch is a 14 page book (cover, 2 pages of OGL, 1 page of ads, 1 title page for 9 pages of content) dedicated to the new vile witch spell caster. This is a character that revels in what others throw away. It immediately reminded me of the Junk Lady in the movie Labyrinth AND Maja the witch from Adventure Time; she is the witch that buys Marceline's teddy bear Hambo for its memories. The idea is that there is power in memories and power in items that have been associated with others. It's a powerful archetype really and one with a LOT of potential.
But because the witch is so often mired in the refuse of others her appearance and form suffers.


The class has a lot of interesting features and powers in addition to some new spells and familiars. Vile Witches are limited to 9th level. I think I see why, but I would try them to 10th or 12th like the other spell casting classes. Though she does have more powers (familiars and "vile blood") as well as a quicker spell advancement.
The book has both "vile familiars" and "common familiars". Common familiars can be used by any spell casting class, the vile ones are for the vile witch. The rules are simple, as befitting the M&P game, and easy to use. If you want familiar rules then this is a good choice to be honest even if you never use the class itself.
The book also contains 19 new vile witch spells. While these spells could be used with any other magic using class, they are very specific to the vile witch and really give her a lot of flavor and color.


For just under $2 there is a lot of material here. It is a very different sort of witch and I like that. I am certain that this class will make for some great NPCs and hopefully some really great PCs as well.


What I kept thinking while reading it was that a Vile Witch dedicated to the Goddess, Tlazolteotl would be a good idea. She could even be "good" or Lawfully aligned. Something like a "Sin Eater". Her job is to make good things happen by "eating" the bad things.
Only a thought, but it would be how I'd play the class.


In any case this is a really original twist on the witch and one I really like.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mazes & Perils: The Vile Witch
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AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/05/2016 09:41:23

"The D&D and AD&D games are actually different games." p.74, The Book of Marvelous Magic.
This was not the first time I had read this, and by 1985 I had moved away from the D&D game to AD&D, it was still interesting to read this. Back then we freely mixed the two systems without so much as a care.

So it was with some confusion then that when I picked up AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic that is proudly stated it was for the D&D AND AD&D games. This was only emphasized more with the very first magic item listed, the Alternate World Gate. AD&D was treated on the same level as Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and Boot Hill.


Confusion of compatibility issues aside, The Book of Marvelous Magic became one of my favorite and most frustrating D&D accessories. Favorite because at this time I was serious into working on my witch class for AD&D/D&D and I was looking for guidelines on how magic items should be created. I didn't find that here, but I did find a lot of inspiration. Also, there were a lot of magic items in this book that later would become rather important in my own games for the next 2-3 years.
Frustrating because I never could get my gaming groups to embrace this book like I did. I think it something to do with the punny names of the some of the items. I now know that this was just something that was going on at the TSR offices back then (see I6 Ravenloft), but it made it difficult to take the book seriously at times.


The authors are listed as Frank Mentzer with Gary Gygax, but I think we all knew at the time that Mentzer did the lions-share of work on this. The book covers the same span of characters (and same span of publication) of the Mentzer penned Basic, Expert and Companion Rules. Living in my small town in Illinois I think this might have been the first reference I saw to the Companion ruleset. Reading this book I am thinking that the Companion rules had just been written and the Master Rules had not. There are no references to the Master Rules and in places, the rules seem to put 36 at the top of the character achievement and in others, it was 26.


So what does this book have? Well, there are over 500 new (at the time) magic items spanning 76 pages of text. The cover art is from none other than Clyde "I'll have the thigh" Caldwell and really grabbed my attention. Not like that (though I was 15 at the time) but because she looked like a bad ass witch.


The magic items are divided by type, so for example under Armband there are five listed magical Armbands. When a magic item needs to be listed, such a Bag of Holding, it is listed with a "see D&D Basic Set".


The book did raise the question in our groups of who was creating all these magic items? That was never fully answered here or really anywhere for a couple more decades. We opted that most of these were in fact fairly unique items. So there were not a lot of "Buttons of Blasting" out there, but maybe one or two at best.


There are a few magic items here that I still have not seen in other (future) versions of D&D, so it is worth it just for those. It is also a great insight to the mid 80s D&D, a time when TSR was on top of the world, right before the big shakeup. Also at the time I enjoyed tthis book, but largely ignored Mentzer's magnum-opus BEMCI D&D. Reviewing both now as an adult I see I did all these books a large disservice.


What is in these books that gamers of today can use? Well in truth, LOTS.
Really. The book might as well say "Compatible with 5th Edition D&D" on the cover. Hell. Change the trade dress and you could almost republish it as is with little editing. Yeah remove references to Basic, Expert and Companion. Change some of the spell casting descriptions, but otherwise this is still a gem today as it was 30 years ago.


Time to re-introduce the Collar of Stiffness to my games!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AC4 The Book of Marvelous Magic (Basic/1e)
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Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
Publisher: 00Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/28/2016 10:06:03

Baba Yaga is one of the those great villians/NPCs that has been back for every generation of the World's Greatest Fantasy Role-Playing Game and likely always will. I recently ran a 5th ed conversion of the 2nd ed module "Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" and this worked great. Well...and least in theory. The palyers were smart enough not to make Baba Yaga angry and instead did her a service. Still it was good to know I had these.


The book is 7 pages. Minus 1 for cover, 1 for a full page of art (which I liked), and 1 for the OGL you have 4 pages of solid D&D5 stats. More detailed than a monster entry (as it should be) there are plenty of ideas in-text to use. The best idea is of course do what you can to keep her from attacking the party! CR 26 yes, but also spell use, phyiscal attacks and magic items of unique properties. These stats live up to her legacy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Baba Yaga Boss Stats (5E)
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Beasties
Publisher: Night Owl Workshop
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/27/2016 09:59:57

I have gone on the record, many, many times, talking about how much I love monster books. My first glimpse into D&D was way back in 1978-79 when I first saw and read the Monster Manual. Very few books have come close to that feeling of unlimited potential. So when a new monster book comes out, I have to take a look and usually grab it.


Beasties from Night Owl Workshop has something of a pedigree in my mind. The art and text are from none other than +Thomas Denmark. He is responsible for some of my favorite art during the d20 boom, in particular Citizen Games "Way of the Witch".


Beasties is an 84 page, digest sized, black and white interior book of new monsters. According to the sales text on DriveThru the book contains:
27 Monsters
6 NPC's
37 Drawings!
5 Maps
1 "Megadungeon" sample.


It certainly punches above its weight class in terms of monsters and content. All the art is by Denmark himself, as is the text with additional text by Terry Olsen.


The book is designed for "Original Fantasy Rules" but plenty of conversion notes are given for OSRIC and Basic Fantasy. There are also some conversion notes for Nite Owl Workshop's other games Colonial Troopers, Guardians and Warriors of the Red Planet.


Monsters are typically presents with stats and description on one page and the art on the next.
Many of the monsters have a distinct "old school" or even pulpy feel about them. Indeed, I certainly can see many of these working great with WotRP above.
There are a lot of new undead monsters to add some interesting challenges to your players too.


I love the "Flying Locust Citadel" to be honest. There are just not enough flying mega-dungeons in D&D as far as I am concerned.


Plus the entire work is released as "Open" under the OGL so that is a nice touch.


Bookmarks in the PDF would have been nice as well as a table of contents. All in all a good book for the price.


Sinderan Witches
Of course, these two caught my attention right away. I'd love to hear more about "Sinder's ancient past" and how these two groups of witches came to be. I'd also love to hear how the "Sinderan Light Witch" became the evil, youth stealing witch and the "Sinderean Shadow Witch" became the good protectors of the innocent. I could build an entire tradition out of these two.


Originally posted here:
http://theotherside.timsbra-
nnan.com/2016/06/monstrous-monday-beasties-from-night.htmla>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasties
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H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/14/2016 10:04:18

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.tims-
brannan.com/2016/04/a-to-z-of-adventure-h-is-for-high-level.-
html


H4 The Throne of Bloodstone was fairly notorious back in the day. It was another adventure I bought and then gave to my DM with screams of "run this!" We ran it the first summer I was home from college.


The basic plot is that all the trouble caused in the previous modules was not just due to a cult of the Demon Prince Orcus, but Orcus himself. In H4 the characters went to his lair in the Abyss and killed him. Ok...where to begin with this one!


Well let's start with that cover.


This is the only adventure in the series that is labeled for the Forgotten Realms. The first, H1, assumed any world. There is Orcus himself coming out of the mouth hell or something (the Abyss really). Oh and the recommended levels...let's see, 18 to 100! 100th level characters?


I have to admit that was one of the reasons why I grabbed this. We had been playing a LONG time and I have many characters well past the by-the-book levels. AD&D at the time really only went to about 25th level, but figuring out higher levels was not that big of a deal. Generally speaking adventures topped off at 20th level.
So I took some characters, right around 20th - 25th level...and a couple of them died right away! This was not an adventure to screw around with.


The other thing you notice with this adventure is that it is long. The module itself is like 96 pages and tons of maps. I seem to recall it took us a while to get through it too, most of the summer I was home from college.


You do get to fight Orcus in the end, as well as Tiamat, Baphomet, a giant Red Dragon, and potentially Asmodeus. It is just a deadly, deadly module.


After this I retired all the characters that went through. After all what was left for them to do?


Fighting Orcus is a theme that D&D would come back to again and again. The HPE series for 4e, especially the Epic modules. In 2nd edition the events of this module would later play out as part of the Dead Gods adventure.


For me, today, this adventure is a template for other high level adventures. While the module said up to 100th level, there are not really many qualitative differences between a 25th level character and a 100th level one. Fighters top off in attacks. Clerics top off on undead turning at 14th level and so on. I was a little disappointed that the AD&D designers did not take a page from the D&D team in this case. At this point in time AD&D and D&D were two different, but similar, systems. D&D characters could go to 36th level and even become immortal. Some of that would have been helpful here.


Much like the E modules, this module is likely to use as a source of material, but not so much as the adventure itself. Still...running it could be a lot of fun.


In truth fighting Orcus is a always a good idea. He is a demon, he wants to destroy everything AND in the E series he desires to become a god. In truth this H series and the E series only scratches the surface when it comes to fighting Orcus. And even if you do kill him there is still the Dead Gods adventure that deals with him coming back from the dead. In fact there are no lack of products out there to let you match up against the Demon Prince Orcus.


This is certainly an end-game adventure, after this buy that castle in southern Nyrond, hang your +5 Holy Avenger over the mantle, hire some Valley Elves to make some wine and kick up your heals and smoke pipe weed to end of your days.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone (1e)
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YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
Publisher: Jeremy Reaban
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 15:17:24

YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones was written by Jeremy Reaban. I have featured some of his products on my blog in the past.


Y in this case might stand for Yuggoth, which is the home-world of the Mi-Go, or at least one of their outposts. This adventure, designed for characters 6th to 10th level for any old-school game, heavily features the Mi-Go. While he describes it as a "Science fiction" "dungeon crawl" only a tiny bit of work is needed to make this one horror or a mystery. Afterall, people are going missing, strangers are showing up in town and there is that whole eerie cave system.


Like most of the old-school adventures, this one is light on plot and heavy on the dungeon crawl atmosphere, and that is by design really. The adventure is simple enough but there is so much more that can be done with it if you want. Note: I should point out this is NOT a criticism of the adventure, quite the opposite really.

So basically the Mi-Go are in town and they are doing what the Mi-Go do, removing brains from bodies and putting them into other bodies or their special cylinders. The brains stay alive and are even immortal after a fashion. They are also experimenting on the local fauna. A couple of things in this adventure jumped out as me as hitting that 70's/80's nostalgia sweet spot. There is a Flumph the Mi-go can't figure out. A bionic Sasquatch! (I mean really, was this written just for me?) I biologic towel, a Valley Girl brain, and this whole "Escape to Witch Moutain" vibe about it. There is a witch and Swanmay in it as well.


Personally I would take Jeremy's advice and expand the module a bit. Have the party meet the old witch Gwen in her "old" form, but then encounter her again when she is in one of the brain jars and then again when she is in her new body. Also, I'd make all the Mi-Go's human form all look roughly the same; perfect, blonde, blue eyes, devoid of any real personality. Like something out of Village of the Damned. Liked they learned how to be human by reading it in a book.
I'd also make their plans a little more nefarious. This is a scout group looking to colonize this planet. Makes that bionic Bigfoot look a little more scary if you ask me!


Obviously, a good companion to this adventure would be Jeremy's own OSR Warlock. Make Gwen a warlock AND the one responsible for bringing the Mi-Go here. I'd also play it under Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Give it that "colder and darker" feel that AS&SH can provide. Plus there are already a number of good Lovecraft Mythos beasties in that game.


My biggest issue with this adventure is where do I use it? I have so many choices to be honest. I could easily slot it in as a "Monster of the Week" story, but that would sell it's potential short. I could make it part of a larger campaign, but I would also want the Mi-Go to be more that just a one shot.


In any case I know this will be a fun one.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones
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JD2 Darkland Moors
Publisher: UNIgames
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2016 17:15:00

Another mini-adventure, this time for a little bit higher lever adventurers. The basic idea here is to investigate the moor and defeat a cyclops causing trouble. There are three black and white maps. Given this is about a cyclops I could work it into the Giants series pretty easily.


Both Jeff Dee's JD Adventures are under $2.50. At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while traveling to another adventure or in-between towns. Good for slotting in between other adventures or even to break up the campaign a little.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
JD2 Darkland Moors
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Ravenloft (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/09/2016 13:09:50

The 3.0 era was on us. I had just come back to D&D from a long hiatus and to my surprise we were getting a new Ravenloft setting and it was going to be penned by Swords & Sorcery Studios/Arthaus/White Wolf. Say what you like about WW, they do know vampires.


Ravenloft 3.0 was one of my favorite books I bought in the new 3.x era and I loved how it looked. I splurged and grabbed the limited edition version from my favorite local game store.


I thought the art was fantastic and loved how well it adapted itself to the 3.0 rules. But I had already had some experiences with 3.0 and even had pictured up some Swords & Sorcery Studios books and enjoyed those as well. The races were a nice treat to be honest. For the first time I really felt like I could run a Ravenloft game with the likes of gnomes, halflings and especially half-orcs, now rebranded as Calibans and the new Giogoto.


I think though I was expecting more at the time. SSS was part of White Wolf like I mentioned and I was hoping for some of what made Vampire: The Masquerade so good to be here. In re-reading it now, so many years later, I find I had unrealistic expectations. In truth this book is a much better organized and updated version of the 2e Domains of Dread book. The nice thing about Ravenloft (and many of the D&D worlds) is that the plot kept moving along despite edition changes. Though there is also a nice timeline included so DMs can do what they want.


This book has a black and white interior when most others were going full color. To me this is a feature, not a bug. Ravenloft is world of shades of grey and the art here is helps convey this. The book is a basic campaign guide including the people, the lands and most important for Ravenloft, the horrors of the lands. There are some new feats and skills. No new spells, but suggestions on how magic will be altered by the Mists. There is even a section on the Gods of Ravenloft.


Since most of this book covers the lands, their inhabitants and the Cultural Level of each, there is not a lot of crunch. Translation: You can use this with any other version of D&D you like. Even the feats look like they would work well with 5e still. Even the section on "Fear, Horror and Madness" would work well.


It lacks large foldout maps of the 2e days, but it is a surprisingly good resource to me these days.
Well worth picking up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ravenloft (3.0)
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Scum and Villainy
Publisher: Stellagama Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2016 16:30:05

"Scum and Villainy" is likely to be the most aptly named supplement for the White Star game I have picked up in a long time. After all, if White Star is the godchild of Star Wars and 70s D&D then Scum and Villainy had to come up sooner or later.


S&V is a 17-page book (cover, credits page, table of contents, 1.5 pages of OGL bring us to 12.5 pages of content) for playing the low-life of the galaxy. Written by Omer G. Joel it also features some really nice art from Luigi Castellani. It is very evocative. I see that and I think "Traveller" and that is not a bad thing. Nor is it an accident.
I am in love with that cover.


There are two new classes, the Assassin and the Rogue who do pretty much what you think they do, but there are some nice features to make them fit the WS universe a bit better.


The gems of this though are the expanded rules. How to go unnoticed in space. How to sell stolen goods. Really the stuff that you expect to see in a book like this, but never really do.


There is a section on ship mods, new equipment and new weapons.


There was a lot of good things here, but I was hoping for more. Maybe a bit on a notorious crime synidicate or something along those lines.


With 17 pages at $3.99 I was expecting more. Compare this to the B/X Rogue which is 24 pages at $1.50 and covers similar ground. Combining the two would give you some really potent rogues!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scum and Villainy
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Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2016 07:32:56

Not very large, but it does exactly what it needs to do. The Dhampir is a great race to play in any version of D&D, but Mark capitalizes on the strengths of D&D5 to make a fun race. I would have an easier time working these Dhampirs into my games than the Dragonborn and Tieflings my kids want to play all the time.
Perfect for a buck.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Crucible: Dhampirs (A Race for 5E)
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