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Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
by Jordan V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2019 10:53:45

I've been playing D&D for about 5 years. Started in 4e and have been playing 5e since its release. While I love the modern editions, something has always intrigued me about older versions of the game. But those old books are just page after page of walls of text and complicated rules and references. It's not digistible or easy to learn. Luckily, that's where Old School Essentials comes in. OSE presents the 1e D&D rules in a readable, digestible way that makes sense to the modern reader. This is something my friends and I can actually play at the table. Everything is organized super well and the mechanics are clear.

I backed the Kickstarter and received the Hole in the Oak adventure, which has been fun to play. I've also purchased the Advanced Fantasy Rules, which is equally great. I fully intend to buy the print versions of these books when they're made available, now that I know how awesome they are.

In the future, I'd love to see Necrotic Gnome tackle some additional classes (mystic, psionicist?) and add additional monsters or even different genre rules. I would also be interested in a 2e clone that makes that edition clearer for modern players. I know Necrotic Gnome does good work and I would be first in line to buy any and all of these!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
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Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
by Byron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2019 10:20:23

Honestly, the two reviews "above" have covered how great this update of the classic BX material is. But I want to add that the Tome's layout (along with the individual books, should you purchase them as well) is exceptional in its simplicity. Each section is either one or two pages and layed out in such a way that one can always have the book laying open and the complete information for the section showing. The illustrations are wonderful in their old-schoolness (is that a word?) and really PoP with fun!

Overall, this is a great update to the classic BX information.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome
by Alberto V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/28/2019 09:57:16

The definitive B/X D&D! Gavin did an outstanding job with the layout, the commissioning of the art pieces (there's tones of them and they are all incredible) and the revision of the original text in order to turn the greatest fantasy role-playing game ever created in the best version ever produced. Unmissable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
by Are S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2019 17:33:01

if you want to play a Svirfneblin race-as-class, I believe this book is your only option. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
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Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells
by K H A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2019 09:17:01

This is a great addition to the OSE ruleset. While it includes Druid and Illusionist spells, these spells are also used by the Bard, Ranger, and Gnome classes. For those classes this book is all you need for spells (in other words: theres no "see the Cleric and Magic User spell book" text). Also, each spell is presented in a bullet point format that is easy to use at the table. The art is B&W, but use is made of green as an accent color that is especially handy in charts (familiar to OSE and BXE readers).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells
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Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
by K H A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2019 08:18:07

This is another OSE (formerly BX Essentials) helpful book. It is designed to bring the ADnD 1e classes (with Unearthed Arcanna classes and races) into the Basic/Expert game (instead of making BX play more like ADnD). As such, race as class is still the default, but there are options for spitting the two. You do need the companion Druid and Illusionist Spells to get the most out of this volume. The Druid, Bard, and Ranger make use of Druid spells; the Illusionist and Gnome make use of Illusionist spell. NB there is no Monk. I have players using the Barbarian and gnome currently. They blend nicely with the other classes and no one feels overshadowed or nerfed. The fact that the classes are complete on a two page spread is really nice, no flipping back and forth. Also, it makes it easy to print out a class for a new player to use. The layout is helpful throughout and the art is wonderfully inspiring.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
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Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
by M K B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2019 06:47:19

This is wonderful resource for adding a lot of depth tor a B/X game. Always nice to have class options in a style that feels yearningly like early AD&D.

And, as always, presented in that effecient, clear and stylish Necrotic Gnome manner.

Must have!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 8
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2019 07:49:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The eight installment of the Wormskin-zine depicting the strange Ur-forests of Dolmenwood clocks in at 36 pages of pure content (laid out in 6’’ by 9’’/A5), not counting editorial, etc. As always, my review is both based on the print and pdf iterations of the ‘zine.

The OSR-ruleset employed within this book would be B/X (or Labyrinth Lord), but the rules can be pretty easily tweaked to work for other systems.

All right, so the first thing you’ll notice, is that the ‘zine, in its slumber has obviously received an aesthetic upgrade: Leafing through the pages, I was surprised to see full-color, original artworks for all of the monsters featured within, which this time around, would be 5 different fungus-themed foes, particularly suited for the lower end of the level-range. Artist Emma Lazauski did a pretty fantastic job here – you see, fungi creep me out. Seriously. And the fungi herein manage to both be creepy (at least to me) AND actually look…cute? This juxtaposition is hard to achieve, and it elevated that section for me rather significantly. The monster-entries, as before, do come with sample traits that help the referee to differentiate between different individuals of the species and make them feel less run-of-the-mill. As since number #7, we no longer get the encounter and lair-sections for monsters in Wormskin, but in contrast to #7, I found I minded less here, courtesy of the installment focusing on unique creatures as opposed to NPCs.

That, and the artworks are a great replacement. Anyhow, what kind of fungi do we get? Well, there would be brainconks, semi-sentient bracket fungi that may be mewing and enjoy dropping on targets…to eat their BRAINS!! Beyond these, we have ambulatory fungi that can emit strobing pulses of light, and small pook morels that can emit horrific psychic impressions as a defensive measure. Massive ochre slime-moldy hulks can also be found, but my favorite would be the wronguncle. These fungi have grown from the dead, fusing a psychic remnant with the fungus: This makes them think that they are the deceased person, and they just look for home, won’t you help? Well, you think twice, for they will slaughter everyone, going completely bonkers upon returning. These are thoroughly horrific, and with the sample home table to supplement this one, the wronguncle is one of my all-time favorite Dolmenwood critters. Strange, potentially funny and at the same time, horrific. Two thumbs up!

The installment also includes campaign rules. Yes, seriously. And oh boy, these are smart. They are a great example of Gavin Norman’s precise and refined writing, which marries the simplicity we expect from OSR-rules with pinpoint precision. Finding a camp site, the influence of weather and characters, setting the camp, fetching water, getting the fire going (yes/no?) and concisely codified evening abilities that can be resolved super-quickly: The camp rules have it all; they have mechanically-relevant rules for sleeping, watch (including rules for falling asleep), etc. – and there even are 30 different campsites with potentially mechanically relevant features.

These rules are brilliant: They allow for the resolution of the setting up camp section in mere minutes of playing time, facilitate adventure hooks insertion, reward capable PCs, etc. – in short, they are amazing. They are so elegant, I frankly will adapt them for more complex games as well. A capable referee could even slot them into games like 5e, Pathfinder, etc. This is easily my favorite rules-centric offering in the whole run of Wormskin so far!! It is seriously worth getting the ‘zine all on its own.

Beyond that, we also once more have a massive table that deals with the strange, magical waters that may be found within Dolmenwood’s glades and clearings. This table is a classic d30-table, covers 3.5 pages, and nets quite an array of different, intriguing effects – and yeah, there obviously is synergy with the camp rules, right.

For the fans of Dolmenwood, there is also another massive section that unveils another grand mystery of Dolmenwood, namely the “Sisters of the Chalice and the Moon”, the sisterhood of witches that pretty much represents the second massive cabal of magic-users you can find in Dolmenwood. And yes, this is a take on witches; it, at first glance, uses all the tropes you’d associate with a variety of witch tropes, does twist them in a genuinely interesting way that renders them, and dealing with them, rather…STRANGE. As it should be in Dolmenwood!

The massive article does contain notes on the occult symbolism of these witches, and the write-up does note schemes and goals, their relationships with other mighty factions of Dolmenwood. Beyond rumors, symbolism and the like, becoming a member of the sisterhood is covered – and yes, there is some intriguing material herein, and how the gender-theme is depicted, is rather cool. If you liked the write-up of the Drunes, you’ll also adore this one – and yes, I do love it. I will not spoil the truths of the sisterhood, as these are denoted as deep lore – secrets to be unearthed by the players while enjoying the game.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard that uses neat touches of color to make the book more aesthetically-pleasing. Artworks are a blend of b/w-pieces in the pdf, and the supplement features amazing full-color artworks for the monsters. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the PoD, while briefer than previous Wormskin installments, is the version I’d recommend getting.

Gavin Norman penned everything herein, and he really upped his game. Meticulously precise, inspired and varied, the content herein is literally all-killer, no filler, making this installment not only my benchmark for the Wormskin magazine, but for all kinds of OSR-‘zines. This is a brilliant booklet that is inspiring in all the right ways. 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 8
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Wormskin Issue 7
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2019 12:34:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The seventh installment of the Wormskin-zine clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 64 pages of content – a massive bunch, so let’s dive in!

As always, the OSR-rules employed within this supplement are intended for use with B/X or Labyrinth Lord, but are easy enough to translate to other settings.

All righty, we begin this installment of Dolmenwood with a massive table-assortment penned by Gavin Norman, Brian Richmond and Greg Gorgonmilk, one that features a significant assortment of common names to be found in Dolmenwood: D30 human male and female names as well as surnames can be found; a similar array of elven names is provided for males and females, using colorful epithets akin to those employed by the fairy (like: “Betrothed to the Blood Sun”); beyond those,w e get 30 moss dwarf and woodgrue names, and then grimalkin names and surnames. The latter are ridiculously funny, using cutesy drivel either sincerely or ironically – no one can be sure. Beyond that, we get cleric names in Liturgic and honorifics, and similar titles/nick-names are presented for fighters, thieves and magic-users as well.

The second article, penned by Mr. Norman in conjunction with Brian Richmond, deals with henchmen in Dolmenwood. The methods are simple – go to a civilized location, roll 2d6 (akin to reaction) and add Charisma modifier; this’ll be compared to a brief table, and you’ll have applicants. Further modifiers may apply. After this, you roll 1d100, 1d6 and 1d4 to determine character class, age, and sex. Then you roll 1d30 to determine equipment and spells, if applicable. The d30 table differentiates between classes and non-combatants properly, and yep, the classed folks get tables. Add a few more d30s: Personality, motivation and ambition. There you go – instantly useful and cool – really like this generator.

The book does change the depiction of monsters in Wormskin a bit, and many of these changes make sense: Some monsters could e.g. have (S) as a shorthand descriptor next to their name; this would indicate that the creature is only harmed by silver or magic weapons. A few such annotations are provided, and they make sense; they make the game run smoother. The second choice made here is something that makes the critters more in line with standard presentation – the book gets rid of the lair and encounter-sections. While it thankfully retains the Traits-section to customize individuals of the respective critter, this still takes a bit of the drop and play adventure hook characteristics of the critters away; now, I don’t miss that stuff for e.g. the Audrune, Drunewife, moss dwarf, witch or woodgrue (this one crafted with Greg Gorgonmilk) stats, as these are basically NPCs; I also don’t need this stuff for the new goatman subtype, the crookhorn (think diseases Chaos beastmen – basically the savage and really nasty goatmen), but for e.g. the stranger and more far out creatures, the like always served to jumpstart my imagination. Beyond the NPC-stats I mentioned above, the book offers two variants of giant snails – rapacious and psionic ones, but my favorite is the stag-skulled antler wraith, which, while not mechanically that novel, just has a great concept…and no, they’re not undead. Still, I wasn’t as blown away by this monster section, probably due to the focus on NPC stats.

Now, this installment of Dolmenwood is more focused than most, in that it does contain a vast amount of Hex-descriptions – thrice the amount as usual: 21 hexes of Dolmenwood are depicted in this installment.

It should be noted that I will comment on a couple of the hexes below; I will not go through all of them, endeavoring to provide an overview. That notwithstanding, the following will contain SPOILERS; if you want the best experience playing Dolmenwood, please jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, only referees around? Great! So, the first section covers the area surrounding Drigbolton (which is further detailed in the “The Weird that Befell Drigbolton” module), and features the hall of the Fomorian (one of two entries in that section that has been penned by Greg Gorgonmilk) – a blue-skinned, immortal 18 ft. giant, with a grim hell of black iron, an odd smudge-like thing as a cyclopean eye, a beard of wriggling, earthworm-like things hanging from his face; this titan is awaiting a man named Jack, who will be entrusted stewardship of the emerald tablets…for good or ill…There is a cottage, where ghosts meet nightly to share secrets…and there would be the mysterious and rather strange ruins of Midgewarrow, where an immaculately clean and obviously magical tower contains a sleeping beauty…alas, placed in stasis because she still carries the plague that wiped out the town, awaiting the return of someone to cure her. Love how this twists the classic concept. A lady can also be found here, and from the avernal lake to the toll bridge held by crookhorn goatmen (and their nasty local leader), the material is pretty cool.

The second array of hexes would be the area east of Prigwort, where barrow bogs haunted by bog zombies; A lonely stretch of the wild also contains the home of the mighty Stag Lord. Granted. He’s been decapitated and stumbles around, looking for his skull…but nobody’s perfect, right? And hey, that may well eb a nice angle. The refuge of St. Keye represents the final remnant of the once mighty abbey of St. Clewd’s influence – now, it is basically a pilgrimage site/waystation inn. Inspired and weird: The hexes include the moss dwarf village of Orbswallow, where strange trees grow breast-like fruits, while other trees deliver fruit depending on the phase of the moon. This also contains a rumor section – and the material is pretty awesome. Portals to the domain of the Earl in Yellow may be found in the fairy-favored Golden Wood. A gate formed of living trunks and branches forming a tunnel, decorated with thousands of carvings and love notes, may be passed, and strange, face-like components in the trees address those passing – a great introduction to the strangeness of Dolmenwood. Of course, there are mysterious monuments and stone with properties most magical to be found as well.

The final hex-array covers the area stretching from Lankshorn to Dreg – here, we can also find ancient stones guarded by an Audrune, and the gloriously illustrated hut of Shub’s Nanna, waited on by silver-skinned goblins, oozes wonder in a cool twist of the witch/hag-angle. A buried titan’s skull may be found – and the hexes include a great inn that turns out to be safe, but haunted, making for a potentially creepy, if intriguing night. The sacrifice site of Antler Wraiths is creepy indeed, and we get first glimpses at Dreg and Shantywood Isle. Another favorite of mine: There is a nice tent, where PCs can get healing and a pleasant tea – but the tent isn’t actually real, being just an illusion wrought by a dreaming psionic snail.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with colored highlights, and the b/w-artworks included are really neat. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The PoD-softcover that I won features the name on the spine and is something I can recommend.

Gavin Norman, with additional material by Greg Gorgonmilk and Brian Richmond, provides ample bang for your buck. The hexes are imaginative and intriguing, and the henchman generator is super useful. The name generator is also rather intriguing, making this, as a whole, a great installment. The monster section, while very good, is the only aspect of this installments that didn’t utterly blow me away, courtesy of the NPC-focus. Still, a highly recommended supplement, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 7
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Wormskin Issue 6
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2019 05:03:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The sixth installment of the Wormskin-zine clocks in at 78 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 74 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

As always, my review is based primarily on the PoD version – which this time around is hefty enough to sport the name on the spine. I also consulted the pdf, obviously. Rules-wise, this, as always, is written for B/X (or Labyrinth Lord) rules in mind, but conversion to other OSR-games is simple enough. The Dolmenwood content is valuable for its themes, so, once again, this makes for a great idea-mine for other rules-systems as well.

So, the 6th installment of Wormskin features, among other things, a rather cool article on the calendar employed by Dolmenwood’s residents – and before you sigh, let me tell you, it’s smart: We get names for days, months, feast days (both astrological and devoted to saints), and it introduces the concept of Unseasons, which is genius – basically, these are semi-regular magical seasons where, for example, strange fungi bloom and walk around before collapsing, where mists and the dead rise, or when the secret fey moon stands high in the sky. This is supplemented by the FREE Dolmenwood Calendar pdf, btw. Really cool!

Speaking of Fairy: The book does contain a discussion of the Fairy Lords in fluff-only write-ups, and oh boy, did they make me smile: These guys and gals are twisted and haughty, truly and perfectly encapsulating the theme of Fairy Nobility (FWIW: Fans of Midgard could use these concepts to further flesh out the Courts of the Shadow Fey…) – we learn, for example, about Lord Gladhand, often wandering as an old wizard, testing adventurers in a sadistic manner. There would be The “Earl of Yellow” (lol), “The Prince Who Is Seven” or the “Queen-King Hathor” – this write up (the only article with contributions by Greg Gorgonmilk in the issue) is inspired.

The pdf also provides a brief article on spirits, with brief and concise rules on adventuring while drunk, and a d20-table that notes spirit names, appearances, taste and effects (alongside cost) – this table is pretty nice, but it doesn’t reach the level of detail or sheer strangeness of e.g. Wormskin #2’s excellent psychedelic substances table. Granted, it can’t, seeing how it only covers one page, but yeah – I’d have loved to see a magical spirits section.

So, this book, obviously, also features monsters – this time around, we get proper stats for Kelpies – in absolutely fantastic detail and with a great, genuinely creepy b/w-artwork. Traits for both human and equine form are provided to customize individual kelpies, and the encounter suggestion this time around are particularly neat. The book also presents rules for Dolmenwood dragons – wyrms, who are grouped by bodily humours. 4 are provided, with a 5th hinted at. These are closer to tatzlwyrms of myth – wing- and limbless, these dragons are pretty well fortified versus weaponry, even magical ones, as well as many energy types. They also regenerate, but do not state by how much – the ability is more of a story-telling device here. Speaking of which: One big plus for them would be the weakness table: These dragons could, for example, be hampered by the presence of a pure-hearted virgin, atheist philosophy or similar stuff. I love tehse esoteric weaknesses and how they reward doing your legwork. The wyrms also get encounter tables and 4 HD ratings. Each of the wyrms has a breath weapon (note that in B/X, dragons deal current hit points in damage with these…), some spell-like abilities as Dolmenwood Wyrms don’t have the usual draconic spellcasting, a signature ability, and we get trait, encounter and lair write-ups for the dragons. I really like the ideas here of the humour-association, but I do have two nitpicks: 1) These write-ups, in something uncommon for Dolmenwood, feature a couple of formatting glitches (missed italicizations for spell references). 2) I may be spoiled from more rules-intense games like Pathfinder or 5e, but even in some old-school games, the dragons gain new abilities at higher age categories, and since the tie-in to the humours is pretty flimsy right now, it’d have been nice to get increasing ability-loadouts for these fellows.

That being said, one of the 7 hexes depicted in this installment does feature a legendary and unique such wyrm – and a massive hoard. How massive? The write-up of the treasure takes up a whole page! As an aside – this wyrm has basically a second cockatrice-style cockerel head, grown from the stump left by legendary wannabe dragonslayer. The other hexes contain, once more, the slightly more whimsical, strange themes of Dolmenwood, taking a step back from the deadliness of #5’s hexes. Don’t get me wrong, these are not happy-go-lucky/safe by any means: Drowsiness-inducing waters haunted by phantoms, cursed signposts that lead you astray, a witchglade, Prigwort…and strange highwaywomen, one of whom wields a knife of severing…and who ask for…pastries??? Yep, this installment is once more much more leaning on the whimsical side f things, where humanity is incidental to a fairy tale reality…in short, to the themes and leitmotifs that make Dolmenwood stand out.

This installment is different as well, though, as we take a look at Prigwort (with additional content by Andrew Walter) – the largest settlement in Dolmenwood, it, like Lankshorn in installment #2, unfortunately is not mapped – but the settlement comes with a level of details that is pretty impressive: We learn, for example, about the elevated council of brewmasters, crucial movers and shakers (hence aforementioned spirits-table), and the place does have a resident, sufficiently eccentric wizard who may not be not of much use in battle, but who is a specialist in identifying and analyzing magic. The section also sports no less than 4 pubs/inns/bath houses, etc., all of which are truly interesting – for example, what about the one run by octogenarians, who have their gardens adjacent to the woods, with an alcoholic son and his self-proclaimed neighborhood watch-like ruffians; what about the pub that may well not cater to anyone looking too smart? There is some truly creative stuff going on here. Did I mention that the town has a semi-completed wall that may or may not be related to one of the fairy lords? That the town seems to be in cahoots with one of these mighty entities?

And what about the amazing, magic and utterly decadent magical clothing shop “Brandybile’s”, which is supplemented by multiple pages of sample clothes and ridiculous embellishments, which make it PERFECT for use in conjunction with carousing rules? That one is one of my favorites here…though it and the inn/pub density do make me wonder regarding the settlement’s size – I hope we’ll one day get a map and full-blown gazetteer of the town.

If you’ve been close-reading this review so far, you’ll notice that I have deliberately not talked about one hex. Well, that’s because it is basically an adventure-location/encounter/area. It is beautifully mapped in b/w and lavish detail by none other than Kelvin Green in a neat two-page spread, but much like St. Clewd’s abbey, we unfortunately do not get a player-friendly version of the map without labels, which is a bit of a pity. (As an aside: Assembly of the map in the pdf is easy, in spite of the two page spread, and in the PoD, it similarly looks good – kudos!) This article also ties in with a couple of new spells, but in order to talk more about this, I will have to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

So, half a mile south of the road, there is a rustic cottage, where a woman lives with her twelve adult daughters – all of whom are featured with brief notes on their characters and looks. Known as “Mother”, the old lady is a culinary master – her cookies can heal, and she loves offering special, magical tarts. These allow her free-spirited daughters to seduce pretty much everyone, which also accounts for the presence of fluctuating guests. Mother has a ring that can render her invisible and a wand of condiments; and the nearby woods contain a ginormous…dough pool? Yep. Oh, and it’s infested by a Raging Yeast Demon. So, would you kindly take care of that, dearies? No? Oh, guess it may be time to make gingerbread men…You see, the bandits that can be bought off with pastries? Mother’s daughters. And suitors that are no longer useful? They await a fate of being baked alive and rendered into quasi-golemish gingerbread men. Grisly, yet whimsical – though personally, I will add Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess’s rule that you can’t catch the gingerbread man to them.

This also ties in with the Gingerbread Grimoire, 4 new spells of most delicious nature. At 1st level, we have gingerbread charm, which can grant a quirky and unreliable life to gingerbread beings (8 personalities), and yeast growth, which is per se harmless, yet icky – you may slip, and it can hasten fermentation/baking. At 2nd spell level, we have en croute, which encases targets in delicious crust – they can breathe, but it’ll need time (governed by Strength) to get free. The highest level spell is ginger snap, which clocks in at 3rd level. The target must save vs. spell of partially transform into brittle gingerbread, with the caster’s power governing how much is gingerfied. It takes close reading to note that only humanoids can be affected, which should probably be spelled out more explicitly. You see, and successful attack to such a gingerbrittle-ified bodypart automatically snaps it off and turns it to brittle. This is an archmage slayer (have fun casting sans hands…) and potentially very powerful (high levels allow for torso or even whole-body transformation) – but that’s not my sole issue here. The absence of concise rules for the loss of limbs and their effects ultimately means that this spell entails a lot of referee-handwaving – more than I enjoy even for B/X and certainly more than what I’d expect from Gavin Norman’s usually very precise writing.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are still very good on a formal and rules-language level, but the installment is not as precise as the best of the Wormskin-zines. This is the longest one so far, but it also has a tad bit more minor hiccups. Layout adheres to the smooth one-column standard for the most part, with tasteful and subdued full-color highlights. Artworks are a great blend of psychedelic full-color, fun and dark b/w-artworks and tastefully chosen public domain. I loved Kelvin green’s b/w-map, though a grid, and more importantly, a player-friendly, unlabeled map for the electronic version would have been a big plus. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, and the PoD-version noting the title on the spine is a plus, as far as I’m concerned.

Gavin Norman, with contributions from Greg Gorgonmilk and Andrew Walter, has gone the other way round this time: Prigwort, as a center of civilization in Dolmenwood, also seems to be one of the more light-hearted regions; where Wormskin #5 was pretty dark and steeped in occult lore, this installment wholeheartedly embraces the strange fairytale vibe, and it does a good job with it; it feels more distinct, and hearkens closer to the Hill Cantons than to LotFP’s aesthetics in this installment – though Dolmenwood still remains, even at its oddest, less in-your-face-crazy, more subtle. A very distinctly British strangeness, if you will – elegant in its implementation and blending of whimsical and potentially rather horrifying components, this is a pretty impressive success regarding the difficult theme…and it offers A LOT high-quality bang for your buck. All in all, this is a neat continuation of the ‘zine and manages to retain the high-quality run of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 6
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Dolmenwood Calendar
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2019 05:01:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This humble pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover/editorial, leaving us with 12 pages, so let’s take a look!

So, know what can suck if you’re as anal-retentive as I am? Tracking lunar cycles in your game. For rituals. For lycanthropy. Etc. It just sucks. It takes time and effort and while it’s not insurmountable in any way, this handy game aid does it: It lists the names for the days (Colly, Chime, Hayme, Moot, Frisk, Eggfast, Sunning), listed like, well…a calendar. Where applicable, holy feasts and saint’s days are noted, and new moons and full moons are indicated by handy icons. Month-names are provided as well, and really cool: Every day after the 28th of the respective month gets its unique moniker. It’s a small thing, but I absolutely love it.

Now, this is obviously for Dolmenwood, but this is useful beyond that: There is enough room in each day to put down a note; on the right-hand side of the landscape layout, we have space to put down notes. Even if you don’t plan on running Dolmenwood, this is useful – replace day/month names etc., and you still have the calendar that helps tracking the moon phases. Oh, and this is FREE! A free game aid that takes something annoying off my hands? What’s not to love! 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dolmenwood Calendar
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B/X Essentials: Core Rules
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:28

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

The Core Rules weighs in at 34 pages and gets to the very heart of the B/X Essentials line. The essential Essentials as it were. It covers Ability scores in general, sequences of play and all the basic rules needed. Combat is covered separately. Magic also gets a bit of coverage here in general terms and including how spells can be researched and magic items made. The rules have been "cleaned up" from their obvious predecessors. Focus is on readability and playability here. In fact all the entries under the basic rules are alphabetical, so finding something say like Movement, is easy. In the original rules it took a bit of digging to actually figure out how much a character moves. This was vastly improved in later editions of the game, but here it is very succinctly spelled out. Other rules are equally made clear. Since the "Basic" and "Expert" rules are combined here there is an economy of word usage here. As much as I love my Basic and Expert games, sometimes you need to consult both books when a situation comes up.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Core Rules
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B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:24

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

The Classes and Equipment book comes in at 44 pages. It begins naturally enough with character creation. Some details, such as Ability scores, are detailed here, but also give a call back to the Core Rules book. Still, though everything is here to make a character. For practice, I made a 7th level Cleric just using this book. It went extremely fast and very little need to flip pages back and forth. I just needed to use the Spells book to pick out spells. The modular design of the B/XE system extends to this book as well. Each class begins on an even-numbered page and extends to the next odd-numbered page. You can then hold the book flat, put it up two-pages at a time on your screen, and read everything you need in a glance. I really appreciate this level of attention paid. Many books do not do this and in fact, look like they were just run off on Word's PDF converter. There is more attention put into the layout here than in most products and to me, that is what sets this above the others. The classes represented here are the 7 classics; Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief and the three demi-humans, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. True to B/X these are "race as class" classes. Equipment, money and of course weapons are covered in the next half of the book.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment
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B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:19

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

Cleric and Magic-User Spells would have been my favorite book if B/XE had come out in the 80s. Right now it also has my favorite cover from the entire series. Seriously, I love it. The book itself has 34 pages and covers all the Cleric and Magic-User/Elf spells in the game. All the usual suspects are here. Again when making my recent Cleric I used this book. The modularity again is a huge boon for this book and game. Adding a new class, like the proposed Druid and Illusionists? Add a new book easy!

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
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B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 13:45:13

Original review appears here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/05/review-bx-essentials.html

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources. The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format. All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green. A moment about these covers. They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement. All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off. Everything is easy to find. Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

At 48 pages this is one of the two larger books in the series. This book deals with adventuring and what sort of things you can find on those adventures. So there are traps, monster tables, and all the treasure types and magical treasure. Again we see where combining the Basic and Expert rules gives you a much better idea of what is going on in these "dungeons". This is also my second favorite cover of the line.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this. Is it 100% brand new material? No, but that was also never the design goal. The books do exactly what they say they are going to do. If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures
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