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d30 DM Companion $3.00
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d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2019 09:26:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial,1 page ToC,.1 page index/SRD, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue at the behest of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so, this supplement begins with a page that explains the D30 (and how you can use it I conjunction with this supplement); this includes e.g. referencing d30’s digits separately to index two resulting outputs on the same table: There are essentially 3 rules conventions: A single result can spring from a single roll; two results can be sourced from a single roll, and thirdly, there is the convention where the d30 (almost) faithfully replicates a simultaneous rolling of a d and a d10. The tables sport 4-letter title codes for quick and precise referencing, the respective entries, if leading to other tables, reference the respective pages, and there are plenty of alternate tables – these are denoted by the same capital letter and number, plus a lower case letter. This may sound like a lot to wrap your head around, but you can essentially use this book without even taking a look at this admittedly helpful introduction.

This out of the way, we get a whole page DM mapping glyphs – which include slide traps, one-way-doors, etc., and a worksheet for the dungeon. I loved this inclusion, and there is but one thing I was slightly disappointed by: I’d have loved for the mapping features to work via drag and drop. Why? Because I am INCREDIBLY bad at drawing maps. I suck so bad that even the super handy glyphs suggested here are a bit of a stretch for me (and they ARE mega-simple), so having a drag and drop version would have been the icing on the cake here.

As far as rules are concerned, this attempts to be as system agnostic as possible, with B/X as a frame of reference – the more your game/system deviates from this classic baseline, the more minor modifications you’ll have to include…or not. It should be noted that a significant part of the tables presented herein remain valid for pretty much any D&D-adjacent fantasy game featuring 6 ability scores.

The next thing you’ll need to know, would be that this is NOT a supplement intended to inspire you; it is no grand dressing generator. Instead, this is essentially a DM’s/GM’s aid that needs to be thought of as a capital letters TOOL. If you’ve ever attempted to build something from Ikea with only the throwaway tools included, you’ll have developed a serious appreciation for a good tool; same goes for a screwdriver that really fits your hands. The more you work with something, the more you’ll appreciate having the right tools for the job.

In that way, this supplement can be considered to be an omni-tool that eases the GM’s burden – particularly if you enjoy making your settlements, worlds, etc. detailed and plausible. Take the classes character attribute generator: It’s super smooth: You check out a table that features all 6 ability scores, and assigns letters to them – for example an A in Strength, a C in Charisma; some have minor choices and list two letters – if you’re using the higher letter in one, you’ll use the lower letter in the other ability score. So, for example “B/A” in Dex and “A/B” in Con, you’ll choose A for one, and the other will be automatically B. Then, you roll a d30 and check it against a small table, looking at the respective letter’s row: A starts at 15, and ends at 18; B starts at 13 and ends at 15 – you get the idea. It should also be noted that non-combatants are covered as well; and we have a general d30 table of broad motivations. Quick character inventory (including ones for classes such as druid, monk, etc.) also help render the process as painless and quick as possible; weapons are determined by the 1s digit, armor by the 10s digit. Never again spend much time fretting over village cleric or bandit chief creation – with a scant few rolls, you’re done – and that includes the dreaded “list mundane equipment “stuff.

After this, we get to dungeon feature generation: The first roll determines the general construction and lighting used; additional features can be added, and further tables net door types and door obstacles/drawbacks; beyond these, we have miscellaneous dungeon embellishments like talking items, magical furnishing, religious items, general weirdness and geological phenomena. Did I mention the two tables of miscellaneous debris, or the remains generator? The latter lets you determine sex and race, then property and degree of decomposition/damage, and then we have physical evidence of altercations and even a separate table for olfactory evidence of combat.

Did I mention the mighty generator that lets you make 27K different molds, slimes and mushrooms? I mention that one, as it, in spite of being mostly system-neutral, actually notes miscellaneous effects that can range from tightness of breath to abdominal issues? As a language nerd, I also learned new words here – like “infundibuliform”, which means funnel-shaped. And yes, this is explained, so no need to take out your thesaurus! Cool! I wouldn’t be the asinine German I am without mentioning one nitpick here: There is a typo here – the word describing shrooms with central bumps/knobs should be “umbonate”, not “ubmonate[sic!]” unless I am sorely mistaken and ignorant of a variant spelling.

The room trap generator is also pretty impressive – while it doesn’t put spell-reference in italics, it does denote them (MOSTLY) consistently with “as spell”, with blinding light being an exception; type area of effect, trap difficulty and ceiling/floor/barrier traps are all covered. Containers and magic traps/treasure protection are provided for as well. A quick and dirty poison generator is also presented, with only the damage determination outsourced to the GM. This section does help with making such traps, but it does not help with foreshadowing them in a fair manner. I would have loved seeing that taken into account as well.

The next couple of pages are filled with MASSIVE tables for monster encounter generation; the “#AP”-column denotes the number of monsters appearing – you roll a d30 on the bell-curved results table, and there is a chance for second rolls here as well. The engine takes classed encounters into account as well, and features separate columns for common and uncommon encounters; the d30 denotes whether you roll on uncommon or common, and at higher levels, namely 6-9, there is a chance for differentiation between 3 subgroups as well. We get tables for all levels from first to 9th, and a table is provided for edition-specific monsters such as good ole’ copper colossus to lamia, ranging the gamut from 0e to 1st edition Fiend Folio. A human and demihuman encounter table is also included, with some standard magic items – these are not very interesting, and a generator to make more interesting ones? Would have totally been nice.

“But endy,” you say “I’d have to flip tons of books!” Nope, you don’t. The companion sports a MASSIVE monster list. This list notes HD, AC, attacks and damage, move, saving throws (using the class equivalent notion of e.g. B/X – saves as Fighter 2 is noted as F:2), treasure types and special attack: Rhinoceros beetle: Horn = 6’ long”; “teleporting “blink” attack (10’-40’ feet) for the blink dog, etc. Does this mean that you don’t have to know how these work? No. But an experienced DM/GM can use this as a great frame of reference. Particularly with e.g. B/X etc., this runs very smoothly.

After pages of pages of these lovingly compiled lists of data, we get a very detailed and smooth treasure hoard (mistyped as “horde” – a pun or hint at the ‘zine?) generator, which lets you roll the details of even electrum pieces found! B/X GMs get treasure type conversions for direct use with their system as well. Jewelry gets a generator as mighty as that for the molds, with distinct tables for dwarves and elves, and also some magical properties – these remain pretty vanilla, and represent one of the few instances where this book is not pitch-perfect; The magical item creation does come with dressing, basic types and additional powers, with scrolls e.g. including ivory tubes and the like, but I’d have loved to see some more interesting effects and/or drawbacks security measures here. The two pages of tables for miscellaneous items fare better here. There even is a whole page devoted to tables to make summon/control/etc. items. The potion table does that better: It features tables for taste, odor, color and look – so if your players ask how that weird potion smells? You’ll always have an answer.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – particularly considering that this seems to have been the first book penned by the author! Layout reflects the demands of the tables – from massive tables to multiple small ones, there is the maximum amount of content jammed in per page. This is a super-dense supplement to process. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks, and the inclusion of worksheets is very much appreciated. I can’t comment on the merits of lack thereof of the print version, since I do not yet own it.

Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr.’s companion is a supremely mighty tool; if you’re as OCD as I am regarding the finer details of encounters, items and, in some instances, dressing, then this will help you mask the material that you lovingly handcrafted and the stuff that you handwaved and/or didn’t account for. The book is conceptualized in a way that allows you to use most materials contained herein in a fluid manner without interrupting the flow of the game. This is not a dressing file or typical GM aid – it is wholly focused on functionality, and it does this task exceedingly well.

Much like proper tools help you assemble Ikea furniture quickly, so does this greatly speed up one of the more tiring aspects of your GM duties. This may not take the big concepts off your plate, but it does help you deal swiftly and efficiently with all the boring, tedious busywork of GMing, and allows you to focus more on the fun. This may not be a book that many will immediately love – but it is a super-powerful, detail-oriented and helpful tool for your arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars….and due to the super low and fair price-point (just $3.00 for the pdf) this also gets my seal of approval for an exceptional bang-for-buck-ratio.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Trevor H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2019 20:47:30

This is the second best thing I have purchased from drivethru. The best thing was the D30 sandbox companion. This one is good too. useful stuff. buy a D30, then get this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Dave L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/12/2018 18:20:38

A nicely designed throwback that can be helpful for any campaign you are preparing, regardless of edition (although it is defintely slanted towards OSR). Lots of fun tables to get your creative juices flowing. The dungeon mapping master key really brings back memories of grinding out random dungeons from the AD&D DMG. Thanks!

PS - while a d30 is useful, you can just use a d6 and a d10 to accomplish what you need to with the D30 DM Companion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Richard L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/17/2017 11:51:12

After purchasing the D30 Sandbox Companion and falling in love with it, using it constantly, I decided to try some of New Big Dragon's other products. I picked up the D30 DM Companion along with the Creature Compendium and Basic Psionics Handbook.

While I'm finding the Sandbox book a lot more useful for me personally, that is in no way diminishing the value of the D30 DM Companion. Some of the tables weren't as useful for me personally because I have other books or tables I prefer(I use Central Casting's Dungeon book to build most of my dungeons, for instance), but for those that do not have another method they prefer, the dungeon construction rules seem pretty solid for creating old-school dungeons. I'm not sure why the Dungeon Features tables weren't put after the Mapping Key and Worksheet, instead of having Character Generation in between them, but that's okay.

Speaking of which, it wasn't long ago that I was asking some of my players if they had a resource of premade characters that could be used quickly. While this Character Generation system isn't very deep, it does give some basic random information such as a balanced spread of Ability Scores, race, class, motivation, weapon(s), armor, and a few other items(quill and ink, parchment, holy water, etc). You still need to decide their level and determine all that goes with that, but again this does give you a framework of a character that you can fill out in play, if you need to toss a new character into a game without preparation.

The various dungeon tables such as Embellishments, Debris, Molds Slimes and Mushrooms, etc are fun. I've used similar tables from the 1st edition DMG for random effects, but these tables are more extensive and offer more options - after all, the DMG didn't have multiple Mushroom tables, did it? Note that these come with an effect table, in case your adventurers feel like randomly eating some lichen.

The trap generator is great, and I have to say that from a slight position of disappointment - that disappointment being that I had personally created trap tables based on all the basic kinds of traps and variations I could find("basic" meaning not an extensive deathtrap) and I was quite happy with it. Now, it seems, my own tables are obsolete and I'll be using these. The magical traps were also great.

On the same page as magical traps is a poison generation system. This is fine for people who don't use the "Poison Types" as given in AD&D and need to randomly generate a poison and effect. I like the table, but not sure at the moment if I prefer to use that or the poison types. The table is still great and I can see how it would be extremely useful for those that want to generate such details at random.

Monster encounters is where it gets serious. There are random monster encounters, which include 270 monsters from various editions(some of which have their name changed, such as the Hobghoul, which I was delighted to see as it was always a favorite monster of mine). I'm not sure how the "monster levels" work, which range from 1-9, and of which my 6-7th level PCs could take out the monsters in the 9th level list - or at least many of them. However, I still look forward to trying the tables out and seeing what happens, and - this is the best part of all - ALL 270 MONSTERS ARE GIVEN CAPSULIZED ENTRIES! That means this D30 DM Companion is worth the price JUST FOR A QUICK REFERENCE OF 270 OF THE MOST COMMON MONSTERS IN EVERY EDITION! More complex monsters will still probably require you to crack open your monster book, but most of them have pretty much everything you need, at a glance, on one line!

Finally, we come to the Quick Treasure Horde Generation. It appears as if it would replicate the 1e treasure tables, as well as BECMI tables, pretty accurately and much more quickly. However, as a 2e player, I may have to modify these, since they differ from the 1e tables. Still, as useful as these quick d30 tables look, it would be fairly easy, and VERY worthwhile, to convert them over.

The gem and jewelry tables are useful, though I'm not sure why the jewelry is limited to elvish and dwarvish. I had already been randomly rolling gems using a list of gems and precious stones, but it wasn't a proper "table." I hate when a game says "you find a 10 gp gem." I'd rather say "You find a 1/8" emerald." That being the case, the gem table here will be my go-to from now on. (I will adjust it for my own money system, and also by size descriptions, however.) The random weapon, armor, and protective item tables, including descriptions and magical effects, also looks like a lot of fun, though I do have my own weapon, armor, and ring description tables I created that I still prefer, though I will no doubt incorporate some of the D30 tables into mine. (Also of note - my own weapon, armor and ring tables reference a couple of tables in the D30 Sandbox Companion!)

There are a number of more item generation tables, but two I wish to comment on: First is the potions table. I'd only recently begun to go into better detail about potion appearances with smell, taste, consistency, etc. I was doing so from a table I found online. And while the online table is more extensive, having up to 100 colors, the truth is I don't need 100 colors. Having the tables I need on one page is much more helpful for me, so this will be my go-to from now on. It even includes what kind of container the potions are in, something else I had only just begun to incorporate, and this table is better than the one I was using. Oh, there are also random potion effects, if you want to roll one quickly instead of using the DMG tables.

The second - and last - table I wanted to comment on was the random miscellanious magic items. I love items like this. It's why I use the Book of Marvelous Magic so often. I love quirky, offbeat, comical, or clever items. The deathstone amulet could product a whole subplot in the campaign by itself, the lock knocker is one of those useful but funny items I love so much, the mightbringer items are the kinds of things a powerful warrior would go on epic quests to collect, creating its own campaign. I'm not sure what this company has about "emerald stinkbugs" either, since it is both an item in this game, and a monster in the Creature Compendium!

All in all, this book is fantastic. In fact, as I go back through it for the review, I am realizing it is even more useful than I thought on the first two times through. Honestly, if you only use 25% of the tables in this book, you will get your money's worth for the download.

I would go so far as to say every DM should have at least this one and the d30 Sandbox Companion.

I will review the other three books I mentioned at the beginning soon - but all I will say is, I can't WAIT for future New Big Dragon products. If future products are of the quality these four books are, I will be a fan for life.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2017 21:32:42

So many great tables for your toolkit. Helps get me out of my head where i may accidentally repeat things.

Not anymore. i love this. i had to buy a d30 and I'm so glad i did.

Even has a one page dungeon template, too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Stephen M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2014 12:40:21

I found this book to be quite inspirational. Even if you do not own a d30, you can still use this. Reading through the tables can give you all sorts of ideas for your next game. Everything from dungeon features to NPC motivations to random items found in treasures are all here. I have looked through the tables on various descriptions and found wonderful things to use in just about any fantasy game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by max m. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/24/2012 22:24:08

most charts are jokes, referencing pop culture characters or quotes and the like, but most are great reference materials. lots and lots of random subjects covered.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
d30 DM Companion
Publisher: New Big Dragon Games Unlimited
by Greg W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2012 22:09:04

The pdf preview available here shows off 11 of the pages (almost a third of the product), so you know what you're getting... which is a thoroughly useful set of d30 tables covering quick character generation, dungeon features, monsters, and treasure. You might be able to generate an entire dungeon, in plenty of detail, with just this one book.

Replete with a useful table of contents, index, and hyperlinked bookmarks, this product can easily be used within 0e, B/X, and 1e systems. It includes a dungeon mapping key (with 98 symbols for architectural features, natural features, and furnishings), character attribute / motivation / inventory generators, dungeon walls / floors / doors / embellishment / debris generators, trap generator, poison generator, monster encounter tables and one-line monster descriptions for ‘at a glance’ lookup during games. (The latter are like the Monster & Treasure Assortment tables from TSR, but codified for d30 rolls.) Rounding out the collection are three pages of quick treasure horde generation tables (which facilitate easy conversion between 1e and B/X treasure types) and about eight pages of individual treasure item generators (including gems, jewelry, armor, weapons, and magic items). Even this short summary leaves out plenty of tables; you’ll have to discover them yourself (e.g., 1.45 billion potions; 27,000 mushrooms; 900 traps in 6 categories; 810,000 unique magical weapons, armor, and protective items, and so on).

At this point, you’re probably wondering, “So what’s the gimmick? Aren’t there lots of random tables already out there on the interwebs, produced for free by the denizens of the OSR?” Yes, there are, but LeBlanc has optimized these tables to get you maximally diverse output for minimal rolling. Promoting DM efficiency is one of the key goals that unifies the entire product. Most tables here utilize one of three conventions: (i) getting a single result from a single number (one d30 roll gets you one among thirty results; duh!), (ii) getting multiple results from a single number (e.g., one d30 roll gets you a particular trap type and a particular chance to detect it; that is, multiple results from the same table), and (iii) getting results from simultaneous 1d3 and 1d10 (e.g., one d30 roll gets you a poison with two independent features).

Here I must say that this method rocks when it comes to treasure horde generation. For instance, to roll treasure type A in the 1e MM, you typically had to do 8 rolls of percentile dice (1 for each category), and then – potentially – roll an additional 3d6, 8d10, and a d4 to get the specific treasure amounts. That’s twenty separate rolls! But using the treasure tables in the d30 Companion, you just roll eight times maximum to get the same result; the probability space is almost identical to that in the 1e MM (or B/X) in every respect. Multiply this across encounters and then across dungeon levels, and the time saved is pretty significant. LeBlanc lays out many of his other tables according to the same time-saving principles. In effect, he’s exploiting a traditionally underused die to save us lots of time in dungeon and treasure generation and description. Game prep becomes easier and pickup games convert many of their tedious pauses into time better spent exploring and roleplaying.

BTW, I first encountered Richard L. Blanc's blog just a few weeks ago, where he has at least fifty unique monsters both illustrated and statted up for 0e, B/X, and 1e. I look forward to his future products, such as the sandbox companion and the creature compendium.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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