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The S'rulyan Vault II $10.00
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The S\'rulyan Vault II
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The S'rulyan Vault II
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2017 08:58:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a non-prioritized review at the request of one my patreons.

So, the first thing you need to know would be that this product is a map, a massive map, to be more precise. Drafted by the talented Glynn Seal as well as Monstark and Fizzbig, this map comes in two iterations: One would be the classic blue and white – and yes, if you zoom in, you can see the squares. Zoom in? Yeah, this thing is humongous. As in: You can make that a super-sized-poster-monstrosity. The map comes in 300 dpi, so yeah – you can actually make that happen without everything looking bad. For the tablet-users: The blue/white classic version clocks in at about 30 mbs.

Now, here I may be prejudiced, but for me, the true star would be the second version of the map – just as big, the same dungeon, but infinitely more atmospheric. Why? Because it sports a used parchment look with copious amounts of blood spatters – considering the eldritch feel of the complex, that not only seems appropriate – it really made me crave a print version of the map – to shred up and make the PCs hunt for. Now one of the many, many rooms of the map does sport Venger’s name and the triple Kort’thalis dragon heads, so if you’re a stickler regarding that kind of thing, be aware of this peculiarity. This one btw. clocks in at 116 mbs.

On the plus-side, there is a sense of gravity and gravitas to the dungeon: There are rooms, half-shattered by tectonic shifts; tunnels and caverns leading into obviously hand-crafted dungeon rooms…and there are the details. In some rooms, you can spot glyphs – what do they mean? Those things next to the underground river flowing through – what are they? Suckers? Eye-stalks? Those strange toadstools there…or are they spotted, strange rocks or something weirder? There is an underground sea vanishing in the floor to re-emerge; there are yawning, black chasms – some may be wells (Don’t go down!), some may be dimensional vortices. Oh, and this is Kort’thalis Publishing we’re talking about. There are tentacles. Three different types, actually! Altars, what may be weapon stands or mannequins, statues…heck, this one growth may well be a forest…or just some strange, organic growth. The map is precise in what it shows – just enough to jumpstart the imagination without shackling it to one concept. With one obvious exclusion to that rule. Tentacles. Surprise. ;)

If that does not suffice, the map does come with a short, system-neutral dressing booklet, much like its predecessor: This booklet comes in two versions, one of which is more printer-friendly than the other – kudos there. The dressing booklets come with extensive, nested bookmarks and cover 15 pages; of these, 1 page page is devoted to the front cover, 1 to the Kort’thalis glyph and 1 is the editorial, leaving us with 13 pages. As always in Venger’s offerings, the b/w-artworks featured are really nice. Three such full-page artworks are provided – two battling dragons, a weirdly mutated flumph that is kinda looking like an animated, dangerous sextoy for males and a naked woman in chains being held in front of a huge, obese version of a/the devil – and yes, he is sporting a non-erect member. If that (or the cover) offends you, then this may not be for you.

Okay, so far regarding these things, so how do we start this booklet? With actually salient bullet-points regarding dungeon-creation/population that actually helpful! We follow this up with random tables – one to determine the sound of the dungeon – d4-strong. More gonzo would be the 30-entry-table that provides things that happen when you camp in the dungeon. PCs may dream of drinking blood from a witch’s teat (which may curse them), encounter frickin’ murder-clowns, a magic item has gone missing – this table of complications is actually cool and well made – the table does include rocks falling (but sans necessary PC-death), being marked in various ways, being taken prisoner – the table is definitely creative and well-crafted, without being too weird or too tame or too random – it is a helpful, well-made array of strange things. Okay, so the next thing is actually credited to me, though I mentioned it to Venger in the passing – it is something that I figured would suit his tastes and frankly, I wasn’t even aware he ran with it. I am a big fan of using monster parts for magic components etc. – and Kort’thalis Publishing’s books tend to gravitate to the visceral, so yeah – we get a massive meta-table! 30 monster parts (including circuit boards, eyes, etc.), 4 removal difficulties, 12 different effects (all system neutral – increased spell power, virility, healing – you get the idea!!) and 6 entries on how long the benefits last. I really like this table – it is elegant, easy to use in a given rules-lite system and works smoothly.

Speaking of working smoothly: There is also a massive 100-entry-table – and if you#re running an eldritch dungeon/mega-dungeon/underdark, then this table will most assuredly help you. You see, we get faction quirks! From never or always using a peculiar weapon type, drinking the embryonic water of giant worms, covering the underside of their feet to not looking others in the eye, writing haikus after each brush with death…there are also weird ones: Like ritualistic combat with demon dungeon vultures strapped to them. So yeah, from the exotic t the more regular eccentricities, the table is rather nice.

Of course, most smart PCs will enter and leave most dungeons at least once – 6 entries for restocking dungeon, 4 additional effects (traps reset, evidence of sorcery (with a brief 12-entry sub-table, etc.) – nice ones. There are also 20 sample, fluff-only hirelings and 4 degrees of hireling loyalties – Name, race, class and miscellaneous notes are provided.

Now, the ardent reader may have noted that this book has the “Almost system neutral”-tag on my homepage – well, there is a reason for that: We get a new creature (most suitable for Crimson Dragon Slayer, but converted easily enough); 6 hp, armorless, 1d6 atk dice pool, ascending atk – the glitter worm, aka gem slug. These dangerous vermin lair among treasure and those bitten risk turning into them within 24 hours on a failed save. There also would be a new magic material – Zoth, which may be the liquefied remains of a Lovecraftian deity: It can enchant items, can be made into alchemist’s fire, animate objects, causes mutations – in short, it is a fun chaos-infusion.

Okay, so, the maps are amazing. But more importantly, the booklet this time around is INSPIRING. One of my criticisms of the first Vault was that it tried to at once tell a VERY specific story and then mixed the super-specific with the really widely-applicable. This booklet is much smarter – it is basically a great companion piece to the aesthetics of the maps: It shows you just enough to kickstart your imagination; it is smart, precise and its rules, where present, are as concise as possible within the paradigms set for such a system-neutral dressing file. It also retains Venger’s trademark characteristics and in fact, represents perhaps one of the best dressing-collections he’s produced – the material ranges from the mildly raunchy to the grounded; it does not drown the reader in weirdness, but still leaves plenty of stuff to go around. In short, it represents one of his best dressing-collections to date. It is unique and saturated with his distinct voice, to the point where it is pretty obvious that you won’t encounter significant overlap with other dressing files. As a whole, we thus get an inspiring supplemental booklet and well-made, high-quality maps. In short: This is cool and worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The S'rulyan Vault II
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2017 19:08:58

"Like the first S'rulyan Vault, this is two extremely high-resolution dungeon maps in both old school blue/white and bloody parchment hue. The dungeon is huge and contains a variety of cavern and traditional room/corridor areas... along with special icons." Well, the S'rulyan Vault II is a bit more then that & a bit more. So what is the The S'rulyan Vault II? Well according to its Kickstarter; "The S'rulyan Vault II is more of the same... but different. Obviously, there will be a totally new dungeon layout with lots of interesting things going on. The files can be printed off so you've got one massive map or four quadrants in order to easily mix and match them with each other and the previous S'rulyan Vault." Its giant mix & match dungeon map & DYI kit with Venger Satanis's guile & attitude which is clearly outline about The S'rulyan Vault II introduction; "Delving into dungeons can be the most rewarding roleplaying experience there is. It's the perfect environment for adventuring since that's where the monsters and treasure are. Of course, with monsters and treasure you also get traps, wizards, subterranean civilizations, exotic flora and fauna, natural hazards, and unexplained wonders. There are three things GMs occasionally forget when running a dungeoncrawl... ● Gygaxian Naturalism or Fantastic Verisimilitude, if you prefer. Basically, this provides a "realistic" background for the adventuring. Such as, where does the food and water supply come from? ● There should be a compelling reason why the PCs are down there, besides a desire to slay evil creatures and take their loot. Even if that's the primary motivation, we want to know precisely why the adventurers want to kill these monsters and steal their treasure. And each session, the PCs' emotional investment in clearing the dungeon should pay off. ● This is a great opportunity to show off your own GMing style, aesthetic, and creativity! Use your imagination - come up with at least a couple rooms that defy expectation. Go nuts! Keeping those three things in mind, I invite you to make The S'rulyan Vault (volumes I and II) truly yours."

Can we talk about the Drow babes in implied 'Legend of the Overfiend' style tentacle porn dungeon god cover artwork here for moment? The only reason its there is to attract attention because while the thing might be in the The S'rulyan Vault II but I found it more distracting then tantalizing. Why? Because the contents of the The S'rulyan Vault II book are good solid boiled down DYI dungeon map and kit in seventeen pages of old school goodness. Venger Satanis is a good enough writer/designer who doesn't need to rely on cheap and blatantly pornographic themes and artwork to sell his products. His work is solid enough on its own to stand on its own merits. This is a good tool kit for a really well thought out dungeon. You get factions, reasons for the dungeon crawls, and lots of random tables for generating a grand night's adventure for your players.

This product sinks up with its earlier incarnation, The S'rulyan Vault I adventure plot completely and easily. There's no tears to this and because this product has the quality of Monkey Blood Designs cartography & design work. The S'rulyan Vault II is both OSR cross compatible & rpg system agnostic. The art and cartography by Glynn Seal,Monstark, & Fizzbig, work. The layout is well done and up to the usual Venger Satanis standards. Dungeon masters will get a ton old school gaming utility out of the wandering monster tables, dungeon restocking table, & rival adventuring party disturbance tables. Along with a ton of new & great take on old school adventuring for a continuing dungeon adventure tool with years of life to come at the gaming table. Do I think its worth buy? In a word yes I do and think it will provide a great tool at the gaming table.

Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Blog Want to see more OSR commentary & support? Then Subscribe to the Swords & Stitchery blog https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The S'rulyan Vault II
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Frits K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2017 13:00:07

It contains what it says on the tin, an old style blue map, a parchment style map and a pdf with tables.

The edges of the dungeon match up with the previous installment for those of us who want a humongous map. The map is mostly 2D with some possiblities (portals and other indeterminate symbols) to get from one side of the map to the other. There are caverns, regular rooms (some unreachable) and even some tentacles. No pirates or ninjas though.

The parchment version is beautiful and a good source for handouts to players (possibly torn up in pieces).

The blue map is a bit more plain which is good as the DM will want to add his/her own annotations/legend.

The pdf is simply a collection of useful tables which should provide you inspiration. As this map has no official theme or associated adventure you will need to put in some work, but considering its size (and depending a bit on how many surprises you sprinkle around) your friends should get at leasts several nights of enjoyment out of this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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