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Swords of Almuric: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition $5.99
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Swords of Almuric: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition
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Swords of Almuric: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition
Publisher: Red Ram Studios
by JERRY M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/25/2018 10:43:49

First of all, I was a sponsor of the Kickstarter and I also purchased the original version of this book that was for sale a year ago. So, I'm talking about this version as someone who likes the genre, the system, the original books, and someone who forked out some $$$ to get this updated.

That being said.

This is a big improvement and a good value for those who are looking for a little more BoL fun.

With some caveats...

The artwork is better (much much better), there is a better fleshing out of the world of Almuric, there are random tables for encounters and cutom Aluric beasties, and there is a nice mini gazeteer and map of the area north of the Girdle.

The new artwork was funded via a kickstarter campaign, and, except for the horrible cover, I think it's a very nice improvement. The characters are mote dynamic, the detail is more in line with whatyou'd expect from a pulp fantasy setting, and the style is fairly consistant. I especially like the portrayal of the Akki.

The bestiary is a little more fleshed out, and there are simple rules for madness from some of the creatures. And there are rules for playing the Guras, Yagas, Akki, and Dogheads as PCs.

And the rules and setting for exploring the rest of Almuric are expanded on a little. (And the annoying-"Your character dies before the game begins" rules from the original PDF are completely gone...thank gods)

And the editing and writing are, for the most part, Much, much better than the original PDF.

And there is a little mini-campaign and some PCs in the back of the book for jumpstarting a campaign.

The best part is having a nice collection of information gleaned from the Almuric novel on one, easy to acces place.

However, there are a few places I'd like to have seen some better layout and editing.

To begin with, there are a lot of nice tables, but most of the tables are 1d6 instead of 2d6 or d66, meaning that there are only 6 limited options for each table. This could have been fleshed out a lot with a little effort and there is plenty of room in this book to expand it without increasing the page count to one that would make it difficult to print...

It would have also been nice to get some better firearm rules. They seemed a little thin.

As far as new careers, there is only a couple of lists, with nothing to flesh them out. This would have been a great place to include a bunch of victorian careers and some nice rules for includeing them, but instead, it reads like a set of notes from an outline. (And he had planety of leftover space to fill this in). And some new Boons and Flaws for the new races would have been a nice addition as well. Expecially since the new races seem to default to +1 AGL. -1 APP instead of using the BoL format of favored Boons and Flaws to get the same efects.

This is still the major failing of the Almuric project, while much of it is laid out well, and the references from the Almuric book are nice, some of it still feels like the writer just included a sentence or paragraph on some topics just to "include them" instead of actually fleshing it out a bit more.

I also thought that the madness rules could have been better fleshed out. And some of the monsters seem to be missing stats. (They have the 4 basic stats, but no Melee or Defence...)

And the pre generated characters take up a lot of space in the book. One character has an entire page devoted to his lackluster backstory. Again, this may be useful, but there are other things the game could have used more.

One last note, and its a thing that has no bearing on the actual game, but it needs to be said to satisfy the salesman in me: the cover of the book is horrible. If this were ever on a gamestore shelf or use to promote the book in any way, it would be an enormous FAIL. Its a dark cover, with Dark writing and a dark illustration. None of it either jumps out at the viewer or brings them in to look at it.

(With the hardcover, I opened the box the book came in and I was sitting in my car with the overhead light on and it took me a few seconds to be able to read what I'd just been sent becasue the cover is so hard to read. This is less of a problem with the PDF, but it sucks up an enormous amount of ink without giving a decent picture in return.)

When you print this, I recommend skipping the cover entirely...

And the cover artwork is not only dark, but also non-dynamic. The artist for the actual interior illustrations did a better job than Ryan Landvatter, who painted the cover.

Yes, I'm splitting hairs with that, and it doesn't mean the book is not worth reading, but this is not something that would catch your eye on a shelf. (And as one of the backer for the artwork on Kickstarter, I feel that if he paid much for that cover, it was NOT money well spent.)

In the end though, it's a deent value for the price and it includes some new stuff to expand on the BoL universe and rules and it has some nice reference for Howard's Almuric world.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Swords of Almuric: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition
Publisher: Red Ram Studios
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/17/2015 15:11:51
http://dieheart.net/almuric

Although Barbarians of Lemuria (BoL) just recently released their new crowdfunded Mythic Edition in PDF I didn’t read it yet. I’m waiting for the printed book to arrive. My impression from the beta is mixed: although the new version definitely looks snappier and has lots of additional material the mechanical overhaul doesn’t look like an improvement to me. Nonetheless, the overall package looks sweet and I can always pick and choose what I want to use. So, while I’m waiting for my book let’s review a supplement for BoL: Swords of Almuric. Of course, it’s still written with the old Mythic Edition in mind but BoL is pretty backwards compatible so it shouldn’t be a problem.

What do you need to know?

Swords of Almuric (SoA) is an adaption of Robert E. Howard’s novel Almuric. I’ve never read the book but as I’m a big fan of BoL I took a gander at this sourcebook in the hopes of getting new material for this awesome game.

Content

The book is divided into four parts: The Almuric Gazetteer describes the world and the inhabitants of Almuric. The second part, Almuric Expansion, has suggestions for broadening the setting. These two parts of the product are system-agnostic. The third part is called Playing in Almuric and comes with adaptions for BoL’s rules. The last part concerns itself about adventures, a bestiary and pregenerated characters.

Let it first be said that the world of Almuric is very interesting if you like the pulpy stuff Howard is known for. At the begining of the 20th century a scientist discovered a way to transport living matter to the planet Almuric. The genre is Planetary Romance and comes with a lot of recognizable tropes. Almuric has the “noble savage”, the Gura, the decadent and long-lived Yaga and their slaves, the Akki. The world is fantastic with sabre-toothed predators, unicorns, thunderbirds and prehistoric plants.

The author acknowledges that it is best to read the novel. That leads me to question the additional value of SoA as a product. Part 1 to 3 roughly outline the setting but it’s way too insufficient to be useful without prior knowledge of Robert E. Howard’s work.

Part 4 deals with scarcely sketched options beyond the novel. These informations fit unto two pages. Some entries refer to the original source and don’t make sense to me: what are the “yellow and red races”?

In the chapter Playing in Almuric the author offers advice for campaign play: during the events in the book, before, after, shortly after or far into the future.

So, perhaps we can find the gems within the system-specific rules for BoL? Mechanically, races are handled with simple bonuses and penalties on attributes. You won’t find boons or flaws. That’s a bit lackluster. Human characters hailing from Earth do get career backgrounds. They give you a good sense for the early 20th century. Unfortunately, entries are only grouped into categories without further background information. While the idea is laudable its execution is poor. The chapter ends with a marginal note about firearm rules.

On the positive side, there is a whole chapter with plot hooks and adventure ideas. The game master will find lots of material for her campaign.

Chapter 7, Almuric Exploration, contains two pages of tables for random encounters and events. Chapter 8 is the Almuric Bestiary. It’s another set of tables with mutations and modifications for the normal cratures of the core rulebook plus some new original monsters. Like the rest of the book the information content is meager.

SoA closes with some pregens and NPCs. In contrast to the rest of the product the background stories are unnecessarily inflated.

Appearance

The original cover was strange: too dark with dark fonts, it was difficult to recognize anything. It looks like the author changed the fonts in the preview image which now looks better. However, the PDF still features the old version. The interior illustrations are of good quality and arouse the Sword & Sorcery feeling. The layout is simple and clean with three columns. I really like the used fonts and the border illustrations. For a small press publisher the inside of the supplement looks pretty nice.

The Verdict

All in all, Swords of Almuric is a mixed bag. While it offers access to the world of Almuric you still need to read the novel. Otherwise you’ll get some interesting concepts without meat. The adaption for BoL is uninspiring. As things are now it doesn’t offer any incentive to use it instead of the standard setting. Lemuria is immediately familiar and invites me to get started right away. Visually, SoA is an appealing indie product (except the cover). Overall, the information content is too sparse. The product is full of potential but while you can see the spark of something great it fizzles out throughout the book. In the end, I can justify the purchase of the PDF for the inspiration it offers. The chapter with adventure hooks and the bestiary are neat. Ultimately though, for me it falls short as a standalone supplement for a roleplaying game.

Buy this if you already read the novel and want a refresher of the world and some plot hooks & adventure generators. Don’t buy this if you are not familiar with Robert E. Howard’s Almuric and expect a complete setting sourcebook ready for play.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Swords of Almuric: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition
Publisher: Red Ram Studios
by Bastien W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2013 07:23:21

First of all, I have to admit being deeply invovled in this product. However, before getting in the train I funded this work because Howard's Almuric just rocks! This item offers any DM plenty of room to elaborate a pulp style campaing in a dangerous Swords and Planet setting. The mix between OSR reflexes (encouter tables) and the freshness of BoL rules is just perfect in this way. Enough to say the author did his part in getting interesting stuff out of Howard's work and expanded it just enough to my taste. If you like Swords and Planet settings and enjoy BoL rules, this is good value!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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