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Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2023 14:16:34

Great product, but I really enjoy the Random Trap Generation tables on page 28. I use it often.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design
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Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
by Christian M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2023 21:29:42

Incredible resource for Novice or the Intermediate GM! What I like most is the book starts with lists of the many different types of rooms that you may have in a dungeon/adventure then goes out of it's way to define and make what they are clear (differences between their counter parts very helpful with the many crypts) and provides easy to look at yet simple illustrations as examples.

From there, the book lays out the various types of traps-to the mundane or magical(overall very comprehensive), their purpose that gets overlooked in the dice rolls and the psychology of their intended use. And to go the extra mile, the book lists examples from other d&d adventure classics to prove their point, many from Gygax himself, which is a brilliant touch- I would reccommend that the reader go out of their way to list their own examples that come to mind also.

The book then covers the differences not just between the many traps, but tricks, tools, and dilemmas and the many variations how they can differ and work in tandem together. While also using an in depth topic on how to convey the trap without spoiling it or reducing it to a cheap dice roll or worse yet, an uncalled for TPK. The author states that consequences can be harsh but never unfair or out of reach and I agree, this topic can be hard for the novice GM and takes experience and he handles the topic very well. And to conclude the author compiles a huge list of things that could be used to become not what they seem.

Overall I found this to be an enjoyable read, reading this inspired me to think of situations on the fly or reminisce..But after playing and DMing for a total of 6 or 7 years most of this was mostly stuff I knew and agreed on or disagreed with due to personal taste. Personally I found the Author's introduction and certain parts on agency of D&D verbose to my liking and the final category covering the items was a redundant choice. Page 149 seems to be randomly blank? maybe this makes more sense in the printed version since I have the PDF... Which would bring me to the final gripe, this book when not on sale is a little too expensive IMHO even though it is well made.

So, who is this book for? I feel like this book would be best for the new GM who likely wants to run old school games or have modern games have a more weighted in choice or want a dangerous crawler or megadungeon and wants insight before they begin? or the person who wants to build that really cool trap but never started yet. Id recommend buying the soft cover for the price point and this book would pair nicely with the Dungeon Alphabet by Goodman Games for added inspiration.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
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Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
by Jakob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2023 13:17:20

All three books by hack & slash publishing have some interesting ideas and tidbits of information, hidden in mounds of random text, and need some serious editing. First of all the books lack a clear structure. It seems like several articles from the blog were just copypasted together for a book, without much editing or reorganisation. The sentence structure sways between what seems to be the authors personal notes & cryptric sentences like: „The reality of mechanical triggers is relevant only to inform our design of them for play in the game.“ Editingwise the difference between chapters & sub-chapers seem to be rather arbitrary, and all kinds of headings are the same size. There is no clear transition in between. Sometimes the images cover a part of the text. While the books claim to be system agnostic, they contain several concepts which have not been used since 3rd edition or even before (reaction rolls, constitution damage, only thieves can detect traps, etc.). Saves from staffs, rods & wands stems from AD&D and literally has not been used for more than two decades. Also I do not get why the author would assume that all player characters are female. The intro of the last book reads: „These ideas are the way I run campaigns, and the books were created as a reference for me. The fact that they are useful for other people is just a wonderful bonus.“ except that if you sell your ideas to others, I would except a bit more editing & clarity than just personal notes.

Of the three books I think the Bestial Ecosystems is the least useful one. It is just a random collection of -often contradictive- „facts“ about monsters. (There are seven different physical descriptions of chimeras and several „metaphysical“ ones.) While there are a few interesting tidbits the book does not actually talk about ecosystems created by monsters. In the Introduction it says: „ I once had someone ask me "how to use" the information in this book, and that question befuddles me to this day.“ and „There are so many ideas on each page of this book, it's often difficult to read or even look at.“ which sum up pretty well what you can expect. For somebody thinking about how to play monsters as more than just mindless hitpoint bags with teeth, I found „the monsters know what they are doing“ much more useful.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
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On Downtime and Demesnes (Basic D&D)
by Jakob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2023 13:15:45

All three books by hack & slash publishing have some interesting ideas and tidbits of information, hidden in mounds of random text, and need some serious editing. First of all the books lack a clear structure. It seems like several articles from the blog were just copypasted together for a book, without much editing or reorganisation. The sentence structure sways between what seems to be the authors personal notes & cryptric sentences like: „The reality of mechanical triggers is relevant only to inform our design of them for play in the game.“ Editingwise the difference between chapters & sub-chapers seem to be rather arbitrary, and all kinds of headings are the same size. There is no clear transition in between. Sometimes the images cover a part of the text. While the books claim to be system agnostic, they contain several concepts which have not been used since 3rd edition or even before (reaction rolls, constitution damage, only thieves can detect traps, etc.). Saves from staffs, rods & wands stems from AD&D and literally has not been used for more than two decades. Also I do not get why the author would assume that all player characters are female. The intro of the last book reads: „These ideas are the way I run campaigns, and the books were created as a reference for me. The fact that they are useful for other people is just a wonderful bonus.“ except that if you sell your ideas to others, I would except a bit more editing & clarity than just personal notes.

Downtime and demises is chaotic, but useful. The lists of obnoxious pesants & weird nobles are entertaining to read by themselves, and make a great addition to play. The activities & labor were clearly created for AD&D & therefore have to be modified quite a bit to be useful for 5e (at which point you may just come up with something yourself.) The henchmen are a cool mechanic, but again younger players (and by young i mean younger than 35) will probably never have played a D&D version including this mechanic, making the whole chapter quite confusing. If you want to use henchmen & morale, consult one of the great retroclones out there. The rules will be more clear & concise. The wealth chapter has some creative random tables & shops. The construction mechanics are quite simple & straightforward. The rumors part is interesting, but again confusing. The campaign truths & secrets from the lazy DMs guide will give you a mich simpler way to incorporate foreshadowing. Of the three books in the series, this is the only one which I would consider buying again. Get the pdf version, so you can copy useful info into tables in your notes & leave the rest aside.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
On Downtime and Demesnes (Basic D&D)
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Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
by Jakob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2023 13:14:30

All three books by hack & slash publishing have some interesting ideas and tidbits of information, hidden in mounds of random text, and need some serious editing. First of all the books lack a clear structure. It seems like several articles from the blog were just copypasted together for a book, without much editing or reorganisation. The sentence structure sways between what seems to be the authors personal notes & cryptric sentences like: „The reality of mechanical triggers is relevant only to inform our design of them for play in the game.“ Editingwise the difference between chapters & sub-chapers seem to be rather arbitrary, and all kinds of headings are the same size. There is no clear transition in between. Sometimes the images cover a part of the text. While the books claim to be system agnostic, they contain several concepts which have not been used since 3rd edition or even before (reaction rolls, constitution damage, only thieves can detect traps, etc.). Saves from staffs, rods & wands stems from AD&D and literally has not been used for more than two decades. Also I do not get why the author would assume that all player characters are female. The intro of the last book reads: „These ideas are the way I run campaigns, and the books were created as a reference for me. The fact that they are useful for other people is just a wonderful bonus.“ except that if you sell your ideas to others, I would except a bit more editing & clarity than just personal notes.

The Artifices, Deceptions & Dilemmas is somewhat useful. The book contains three sections: room lists, traps & dilemmas. Some of the lists in the book are cool & novel (for example the kinds and conditions of doors.) The room lists provide an inspiration on room types & what they may contain. Its useful, but something similar exists in the DMG and the Dungeon Dressings series does the same thing much better. The traps section has some interesting „meta“ parts on traps (which part of a trap should be detectable, what kind of interaction is doable), but again it will be tedious to find the usable parts. The trick section again has interesting & useful tidbits, which are hard to extract from the two dozen pages. There is just so much random stuff in those pages (vampires as metaphor for rape, and werewolves for alcoholism) with no discernable connection to the specific chapter or the rest of the book.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
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Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas
by Jonathon H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2022 13:51:32

this book in particular of the 3 in the bundle has a lot of issues. there are so many things that arent explained, there are numerous errors in the text which makes it feel like it wasnt edited at all, and there are a lot of attempts made to explain the philosophy of design which use the authors personal vocabulary that are very difficult to understand as a reader. really disappointed with this book considering how good the pther 2 are.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
by Morrigan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2022 20:37:02

The line about orcs being the result of teen mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant on page 114 is disgustingly inappropriate. A substantial portion of the book was cut out for the public edition and the actual subject of ecosystems is limited to twelve pages in the back of this book. Adding twists to a monster's concept is not enough to make them interesting, nor does novelty add depth. If you are bored with classic monsters, just use something else. Severely disappointing given the high quality of On Downtime and Demesnes.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
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On Downtime and Demesnes (Basic D&D)
by Harold A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2022 13:15:09

There are lots of good ideas and tables in On Downtime and Demenses but the work is marred by some glaring flaws whose presence in the work undermines some of it's utility.

First there is the "City/Village Generation' section on pages 222 and 223. There are great ideas here whose utility is indermined by the fact that there are no numbered tables to allow a GM to utiize these interesting ideas in a dynamic (aleatory) way. It's possible that I have misunderstood the purpose of these blocks of text, but, if so, it's because the author(s) do not describe how these ideas are to be used to do any 'generation'. Since this section has very interesting ideas, it's very disappointing that the author(s) don't provide more guidance on how these can be used in a constructive way their audience.

Which brings us to the question of audience and the application of the rules of technical writing.

One important rule of technical writing is to (a) always explain any uncommon words (or common words used in a technical way) before using them or (b) failing that, define those words at the earliest opportunity to do so.

This rule is not followed.

The problem begins on page 12 with the following statement: There are 5 city types (X54 in Cook Expert)

What is 'Cook Expert'?

This is not explained.

On page 73, one finds a clue in the following: In Moldvay/Cook Retainers were "a person hired by a player character to aid that character on an adventure".

Still not explained, but a bread-crumb on the path leading to an explaination.

The problem is that the author(s) assumes a familiarity with OSE RGP 'short-hand'.

'Cook' is Dave Cook (not Monte Cook) and 'Expert' refers to the 1981 TSR publication Expert Rules.

Would it have been so hard to include this tidbit of information to allow the reader to (a) know what 'Cook Expert' referred to and (b) to research what 'X54' means?

Doing so would also have cleared up references to 'X59' on page 216 and 217 as well as 'X53' on page 219.

Not all of us in the RGP community are historians of the field are Holmes (Sherlock, not Eric).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
On Downtime and Demesnes (Basic D&D)
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On Downtime and Demesnes (Basic D&D)
by Morrigan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2022 20:37:17

I wrote quite an extensive review of this book here: https://archiveofthesphinx.com/2022/08/15/review-on-downtime-and-demesnes-b-x-version/

However here is ths short version: On Downtime and Demesnes is an excellent resource for those seeking to take their adventures beyond the dungeon. However it’s eclectic subjects and detailed subsystems make it better suited for solo play – or at most a small group that can appreciate a slower style of adventuring. While the page count has been padded with large lists of NPCs, items, and other curiosities the contents of these distractions are creative and enjoyable to read. While I rarely play B/X the procedures and ideas included in this book are easily adapted to other old-school variants of D&D and it’s derivatives.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
by Johnathan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2022 09:41:47

This book is amazing. Not even so much for modifyiing the listed monsters (my vampires will never be worms infesting a host) but for coming up with creative ideas for other homebrew monsters. I wil only knock it one star for the fact that there is so much that is not in this book. it feels pretty bad knowing that this is only two thirds of what could have been and the rest was locked behind a kickstarter that was not well known at the time. I'm thankful for what I have, but I wish the rest could have been made publicly available in some form.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
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Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
by Greg C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2022 10:32:33

Found out about this from questing beast.
There is definitely a lot of good stuff in here, 192 pages compiled from the google+ community and I assume some original content. $20 is perhaps a little steep for a pdf, but I paid the price because I can definitely get some inspiration from this document.

Call me OCD but it bothers me that we are missing a lot of entries from Bens youtube review.
Namely the dragon turtle invisible stalker living statue lycanthropy manticore merfolk nixie ogre pixies rhagodessa rust monster salamander sprite troglodyte white ape giant hamsters from space slimes, oozes, puddings & jellies

I wouldn't care so much if I could jump on ebay and buy a physical copy, which I often do for the OSR stuff, typically a bookstore will buy themselves a copy and sell it.

But nope, I guess the print run was small, and advertising limited. So those monsters are lost forever.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2022 14:18:19

I genuinely LOVE this kind of inspiration. These are the kinds of theory crafting hooks that can be pulled into anything, and they have the kind of wit and weirdness that I find wonderful and useful.

Worth the price, this is going to help my wife and I for quite a few campaigns.

EDIT: Didn't realize I was the first reviewer, I should probably make a more clear statement. The book contains entries for a ton of fantasy creatures, and each entry contains alternate names, a sort of short/high level description of the creature, and the bulk of each entry is a ton of rumors, thoughts, and ideas about each creature.

There are no statblocks, but you can take these things and with a sentence or two add some useful and effective spice to quests and sessions. Do you have a group of players who need to hunt a cockatrice but have never seen one before? Boom, advice on what townspeople might say and some ideas for spicing up the encounter. Need a reason for a boat to be haunted, or for there to be turmoil in the docks? Boom, dryad entry.

Highly recommend this, its a good resource for any DM looking to put their own spin on an encounter or region. Great asset for homebrews.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design
by Raymond F. D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2022 18:10:36

The author has mastered the lists of the Dungeon Masters Guide, remaking these into a potent little world-building resource. 5 Stars gladly given.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design
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Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design
by Arno H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/22/2022 02:34:53

Good booklet which gave me lots of ideas. It made me buy Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas and visit the authors blog http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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S1: Henchman
by Vincent G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2021 08:31:47

It wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it may be henchman generation tables but it was essentially 10 characters sheets that weren't very interesting.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
S1: Henchman
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