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This and That: Compass and Sextant (5e)
by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2024 00:00:02

Compass and Sextant doesn't bring much new to nautical adventures, or to navigation, but it does have what you need to immediately run a couple island-hopping adventures.

Chapter 1 is a history of navigation. It's interesting, but it would have been better with a timeline and some rules for the different ages. Vikings in 800 BCE would have no compass, but Chinese sailors might. Using the stars for latitude didn't come until around the middle of the middle ages. A compass, latitude, longitude, measuring knots and looking at the material pulled up from sea were all elements of navigation that could be interesting aspects to a game, but they aren't explored in game terms.

The extended navigation rules is a table of bonus things you might find if you roll well on a navigation skill check roll. In a book called Compass and Sextant I was hoping for more than a table that says you found a ship, a bottle, or an island.

There's a missed opportunity here to have a system for clouds that block the stars, storms that blow you off course, predictable currents and winds, and unpredictable periods of no wind that strand the ship.

So what's in here?

A crew, ready to use with interesting personalities and skills. A table for generating random islands... kind of meh. Some interesting magic navigation items. And several new and fresh monsters.

I think it's just what you need to have a couple adventures at sea in route to somewhere in your main campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
This and That: Compass and Sextant (5e)
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Graveyard of the Gods (5e)
by Nathanael [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2024 16:25:24

Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter for this book.

All in all, this is a solid collection of varied, interesting and fun worlds to explore, ones that provide plenty of opportunities for exploration, diplomacy, and intrigue—and a lot of action. They can be run as separate scenarios, or as part of an extended campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Graveyard of the Gods (5e)
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Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (4e)
by Charles [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2023 21:29:39

Absolutely amazing. Really a shame I was scared off of playing 4e back in the day by a bad launch. This standardizes terrain effects in a way that really encourages PCs to examine their environment and just generally makes the map more interesting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Encounters: Terrain Toolbox (4e)
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Abstract Dungeon
by Bob V. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2022 14:58:27

Into the Forest Dark is a fun adventure which is included in the RPG Abstract Dungeon (148 pages at DriveThruRPG, uses a large pool of six-sided dice). To create my solo engine, I changed seven lines in table #54 in the Tales From the Sorcerer Under the Mountain (248 pages at DriveThruRPG). I created a warrior, a druid, a cleric and a rogue.

The PCs picked up the quest from Sylvist in Greenport. They were required to escort her and her wagon to Morgan’s Hollow and make the woods safe again. The spent the rest of the evening questioning travelers and they did hear about a wolf in the woods acting weird (rabies?). The next morning they started their quest. In the woods they found an abandoned/attacked caravan. The PCs moved some of the contents to Sylvist’s wagon. A bit later they ran into four wolves and a bear attacking as a team. They won that battle, but then they had to deal with four thornlings and two animated stones. They were victorious again, and a few hours later they found a tomb. They killed a golem in the first room and then discovered the ghost of a druid. The cleric attempted his Rest In Peace spell on the ghost two times and failed each time. Michelle the warrior threw her magic white star at it, but nothing happened. The druid tried to turn the ghost into a mouse, but that failed too. At this point, the rogued noticed that the ghost was now casting a shadow. He killed it with his dagger. All of the PCs were wounded/weakened. The loot was a staff of fire. So, they completed the two parts of the quest and were able to rest up in the town of Morgan’s Hollow. Give this creative RPG system a try!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon
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Runewild Preview 1: Missus Switch, Swine Witch
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2022 08:52:26

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/09/100-days-of-halloween-runewild-preview.html

This preview for the Runewild Setting is worth the time to download.

Runewild Preview 1: Missus Switch, Swine Witch

PDF. 8 pages. Color cover and interior art. Price: Free.

This small 8-page book (1 cover, 1 ad, 1 page of OGL) introduces us to the Ruenwild setting I reviewed last year.

We are given a little bit of background on the Runewild (coming soon to Kickstarter!) and the witches of the Runewild.

We are also introduced to the titular Missus Switch, something known as a "Swine Hag" (yes there are stats) and a small background "Adventure," actually an adventure location. Runewild is a hex crawl-friendly setting for 5e.

For free we get a good introduction to the Runewild and Missus Switch.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Runewild Preview 1: Missus Switch, Swine Witch
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Good Little Children Never Grow Up (4e)
by Chris [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2022 18:49:35

This was a fun mini adventure. The visions that you had the players act out or see were a nice touch.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Good Little Children Never Grow Up (4e)
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The Runewild Campaign Setting
by Jeremy S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/25/2022 23:01:19

This is a fantastic product. It is everything that I wish Storm King's Thunder would have been. It is a hexcrawl sandbox campaign that gives just the right amount of detail to each location and significant encounter so that they can be run easily. Random encounters are very creative and well-thought-out to fit with the campaign world. Probably the best 5e Sandbox style hexcrawl game that I've seen.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Runewild Campaign Setting
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This and That: Secret and Cypher (5e)
by Kenneth M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2022 18:18:25

Loving the content. My players are loving it as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
This and That: Secret and Cypher (5e)
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The Runewild Campaign Setting
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/17/2021 12:50:47

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/06/review-runewild-campaign-setting.html

Putting the Hex into hex crawls. A while back I mentioned the Runewild Campaign Setting Kickstarter. I was quite excited about it and happily backed it. I got my books and my PDFs, but it was in the middle of my Covid-19 fueled busy summer last year. The book has been sitting on my desk, mostly ignored since then.

That is a damn shame.

With all the fun I have been having with Van Richten Guide to Ravenloft lately I wanted to revisit this book and see what I can add to it from this book. The short answer? A lot. So much in fact that while there are some great ideas in this book for Ravenloft, there is a TON more for my War of the Witch Queens campaign for Basic-era (B/X, BECMI, OSE) D&D.

So for this review, I am going to refer to both the Softcover print and the PDF.

The Runewild Campaign Setting

Published by Sneak Attack Press, written by William Fischer, art by Joyce Maureira, and Cartography by Toy Fayen. 306 pages. Full-color covers and interior art. Available in PDF, Hardcover, and Softcover versions. For 5th Edition, recommended levels are 1 to 10. Available on DriveThruRPG and at your FLGS.

The PDF is fully bookmarked with hyperlinked Table of Contents.

The Runewild Campaign Setting (Runewild) is overtly a "Dark Fantasy fairy tale" campaign sandbox guide and a hex crawl in one volume. That is it in a nutshell but does not really do it justice. Best to break it up a little more.

From the introduction,

This book includes:

  • A history of the Runewild and its surrounding settlements
  • 150 detailed encounter areas for player characters to explore
  • 8 new Backgrounds and a new Feat: Fey-Touched
  • 21 unique magic items (like witch embers and the staff of clarity and confusion)
  • 32 new monsters (including clockwork dwarves, fey lions, giant forest sloths, and the terrifyingly beautiful Golden Bodach)
  • Detailed descriptions of the histories, motivations, and weaknesses of the witches of the Runewild, including the Whitebone Sisters; Missus Switch, the swine hag; Korthsuva, the Witch of Hours; and the Hag Queen Griselda, Mother of Ogres
  • New optional rules for exploration and resting
  • Advice for running a sandbox campaign
  • Dozens of random tables designed to help GMs make a Runewild campaign their own

That is quite a lot. Frankly, I was just happy getting the material on the Witches of the Runewild, the rest is gravy for me. I turn the page and suddenly my "gravy" turns into another dessert course when I am introduced to the "Witch Wars." Oh. This will be fun.

The book is split into four sections, Running the Runewild, Magic of the Runewild, A Runewild Gazeteer, A Runewild Bestiary.

Running the Runewild: This section covers what the Runewild is and a bit of its history. It also introduces the idea of a Sandbox Campaign. While many gamers of a certain age will already be familiar with the idea of a sandbox (and even where the term comes from) this might be new to the majority of younger D&D players. No inditement of their experience; everyone learns something new at different times. This is a good overview of this style of play for the newer generation of players.

The advice given about Sandboxes vs. Adventure Path is solid and there is even something here that warms the cockles of my old-school heart. To quote page 10, "e of the greatest difficulties in running a sandbox-style campaign is balancing encounters. In short, there are no balanced encounters in the Runewild." Players and Characters need to get used to the idea of running away.

While this might be a shift for some 5e players, it is not a hard or difficult one. In fact, it is presented in the light of the characters have the ultimate freedom to do what they want. It is wonderful really and to quote Darkseid from the Synder Cut of Justice League, "we will use the old ways."

The Old Ways describes Runewild to a tee.

Among the "old ways" are plenty of Random Encounter tables with brief descriptions of what is encountered. Adventure Hook tables, Scenery tables, Fey prank tables, general Runewild strangeness, random animals, random NPCs, and more. For new schoolers, this will make the area feel vibrant and alive. For new schoolers, this will feel strangely homelike. Note at this point, 30 pages in, there has been very, very little in the way of stats. An encounter with a Skeleton is listed for example, but where you look up your skeleton is up to you.

We do get into Runewild Backgrounds which are 5e backgrounds. For 5e they are great really, lots of great information here, and none of them feel overpowering (they grant a skill and a tool proficiency and usually a language) for other games, you can use the native skill system (Trained would be the equivalent in 3e, free Proficiency in AD&D 1.5) or wing it. One of my favorites is a Polymorphed Animal. You used to be a normal animal and now thanks to strange magic you are human-ish. Really fun stuff.

Magic of Runewild: This section covers some more game-specific information such as some new feats, curses, and new magic items (lots of these). But the star attraction of this section has to be the Goblin Market. There is so much here and frankly, they could have published this on its own and it would have been a great seller. There are random tables of trinkets, goblin charms, treasures, and of course a list of vendors and encounters.

One thing that I felt was missing from this section? Spells. There are no new spells here.

A Runewild Gazetteer. This starts out with the hex maps of the Runewild. Numbered just like all old-school hex maps too! The hex encounters are then detailed throughout the chapter with a corresponding Challenge Rating. An improvement from older Hex crawls to be sure. So yeah the party of first-level characters can enter a CR 0 hex with no problem and come out ok. They can also enter into a CR 10 hex with the same level of difficulty (that is, none at all) but they are not going to leave it as easily! That's a hex crawl. There are no signs saying "You Must Be Level 5 or higher to Enter" if the player goes there, then their characters will pay the price.

Each hex of course has different levels of detail, but they are all given some quick bullet points to help the DM out. For example:

2. The Last Tower (CR 4)

A ghost haunts the tower Ten giant rats feast on bandit corpses in the tower’s basement The bandits carried stolen treasure

Then more details follow. NPCs are noted ad are monsters. There are maps where needed (even a player's map in a few cases!) and yes more random tables. There are 150 such encounter areas and it covers a little over 200 pages. Some encounters are a paragraph or so, others are multiple pages.

A Runewild Bestiary: Now you know I love this section. There are over 30 new monsters, monster variants, and (and this is my favorite) listings of The Witches of Runewild. This includes a bunch of various witches (mostly hags), new types of hags, and the two major and one minor covens. Again, if they had sold this separately I would have scooped it up the moment it hit DriveThru.

There is no Witch Class. Part of me is disappointed, but another part is happy since I can now do what I want with them.

The chapter and book ends with Monster Variants.

The art in this book is quite great and helps give the proper mood for this dark fairy tale land.

This is a wonderful book and resource and I am very pleased with it. My only regret with it is I wish I had picked up the Hardbound version instead!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Runewild Campaign Setting
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This and That: Lock and Key (5e)
by Garrett W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2021 14:57:35

A very useful supplement that gives you exactly what it promises. If you were curious enough about Lock and Key to read a review, then it's probably something you can use in your games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
This and That: Lock and Key (5e)
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The Runewild Campaign Setting
by Howard J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2021 20:07:37

This is one of the richest and most evocative adventure products I’ve ever purchased, overflowing with plot hooks and inventiveness and atmosphere. It's probably the best hexcrawl product I've yet read (and I've read some very good ones).

It perfectly evokes a dark faerie tale feel (but not GRIMdark). Nearly every hex, far more than a hundred of them, has something interesting going on, complete with mysteries, secrets, fascinating characters with competing agendas, etc. A variety of random tables and encounters supplement the text, and there's a bestiary of unique creatures and specific denizens, as well as treasures specific to the Runewild.

It is rich with story potential, practically begging to be played. I had originally thought I would simply mine it for ideas with my long term, ongoing wilderness campaign, but it is so excellent as a complete product I may simply save it and keep it to run mostly as envisioned, which is high praise. I have been game mastering fairly steadily since 1978 or so and it has been decades since I've run something mostly as envisioned -- even really clever writers don't get a tone quite right or make things too challenging, not challenging enough, or make it all aobut combat challenges and not enough about role-playing.

I am incredibly impressed and will be first in line to pick up anything else written by William Fischer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Runewild Campaign Setting
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The Runewild Campaign Setting
by will s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2020 23:26:03

Runewild is the perfect blend of folklore, fairy-tales, and D&D. All the familiar D&Disms are there, with an otherworldly twist. The magic of the Runewild feels truly magical -- mysterious, dangerous, yet rewarding if you can unravel its hidden rules.

The book itself is excellent, providing a sandbox experience that does a great job of keeping the party moving. For example, many random encounters encourage the PCs to head towards a specific location to explore, and there are quests that take the PCs far and wide. I really, really want to run this campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
by Emily M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2020 14:18:06

Another module for Abstract Dungeon system, this one providing a list of common, uncommon, and rare races (along with a description and traits to select!). A great inspirational reference for either rolling for random character creation or to serve as wonderful inspiration so I don't just make myself an elf or human each time.

Thanks for the fun descriptions, I think this will make story-heavy RPGs during 2020 quarantine a lot more interesting!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon: Race Traits
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Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
by Emily M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2020 14:11:54

As a 'light' RPGer, this is a great reference to give me a nudge toward a more creative direction when I think about class and class traits, for Abstract Dungeon system or for any RPGs in general. Provides common, uncommon, and rare classes and traits for each. I can use the rolling tables to randomly create/assign characters... but more likely this will serve as inspiration the next time I have to come up with a character, so I don't end up as "Rianwyn the Wood Elf with a lute and a bow" or "Rianwyn the Fire Mage" like usual.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Abstract Dungeon: Class Traits
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Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (M&M)
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2019 16:03:22

Another excellent value product from this publisher. Good clear writing, story, characters, and plot hooks. Easily plugged into just about any existing setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Meltdown and the AlphEx Corporation (M&M)
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