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The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
Publisher: The Danger Forge
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2024 12:49:16

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/07/adventure-week-temple-of-serpent-queen.html

Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school-style play. And it seems they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same, with only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. They are available as PDF and POD options.

  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with.

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.

I am going to review all four as one.

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment.

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons.

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it.

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version.

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
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The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
Publisher: The Danger Forge
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2024 12:49:08

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/07/adventure-week-temple-of-serpent-queen.html

Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school-style play. And it seems they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same, with only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. They are available as PDF and POD options.

  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with.

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.

I am going to review all four as one.

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment.

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons.

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it.

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version.

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

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The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
Publisher: The Danger Forge
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2024 12:49:01

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/07/adventure-week-temple-of-serpent-queen.html

Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school-style play. And it seems they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same, with only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. They are available as PDF and POD options.

  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with.

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.

I am going to review all four as one.

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment.

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons.

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it.

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version.

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
Click to show product description

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The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials
Publisher: The Danger Forge
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/23/2024 12:48:45

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/07/adventure-week-temple-of-serpent-queen.html

Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school-style play. And it seems they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same, with only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. They are available as PDF and POD options.

  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - OSRIC
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Swords & Wizardry
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Advanced Labyrinth Lord
  • The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with.

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.

I am going to review all four as one.

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment.

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons.

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it.

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version.

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Temple of the Serpent Queen - Old School Essentials
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

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FR7: Hall of Heroes (1e/2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/11/2024 13:30:50

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/06/reviews-villains-and-heroes-of.html

FR7 Hall of Heroes (1e/2e)

Many authors (1989) 128 pages. Full-color covers, monochrome interior.

This book looks like a 2nd Ed book on the cover, but 1st Ed inside.

This is a "robust" rogues gallery of early Realms characters, and frankly, I am happy to have it since so many of these names are new to me. The stats are an odd mix of AD&D 2nd Ed and 1st Ed, but mostly 1st Edition. So yeah, there are Neutral Good Druids and lots of classes from Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures.

It also has something that is not entirely a Realms-specific problem, but one I associated most often with the Realms. There are lot of characters here that straight up break the AD&D rules. Yes I get that some (many) are here because of the Forgotten Realms novels. So people like Shandril Shessair is a "Spellfire Wielder," and Dragonbait is a Lizardfolk Paladin. This used to bother me. Not anymore. I am more irritated by the fact that most of the women NPCs all have Charisma 16 or 17 (11 out of 15). Where are my hags?

There are some personal spells and again The Simbul makes an appearance sans proper name.

Still, this is a good resource for me to have. I like to have it on hand as I am going through other books to double-check who I am reading about.

The POD versions are nice. The text has a bit of fuzziness, but far less than other PODs I have seen. They are not perfect for, say, collectors but perfect for what I need them for, and that is used at my game table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FR7: Hall of Heroes (1e/2e)
Click to show product description

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FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/11/2024 13:30:43

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/06/reviews-villains-and-heroes-of.html

FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)

By Steve Perrin (1988) 64 pages. Full-color covers and maps, monochrome interior.

Even with my comparative lack of Realms knowledge I knew about the Red Wizards of Thay. I guess I didn't realize how quickly they had been introduced as the big bads.

This book reminds me a lot of the old D&D BECMI Gazeteer series in that we get some history and geography of the lands with some NPCs.

The book teases that it is compatible with the BATTLESYSTEM rules, but you have to build all of those armies on your own. Too bad, I wanted to do a big battle with the armies of the undead from Thay. Though I still might do that.

The Introduction tells us what this book is about and who and what the Red Wizards of Thay are.

History of Thay. This section gives us a brief overview of Thay's foundation. There is a brief timeline, but it works well here. Some of this information is also found in the later Spellbound boxed set, but that is a way off yet.

We cover the People and Society of Thay next. Perrin does give us a good explanation of how a whole country can, in fact, be evil, from the Zulkirs to the middle class to the masses of slaves. Honestly, the place sounds like a powder keg waiting to explode, and it is the will and fear of the Zulkirs that keeps everything in check.

Geography of Thay is next and it is good read, though I think it could have been combined with the History of Thay chapter since much of Thay's history has been shaped by its neighbors. This is also a good chapter for me, the newbie, to have a map handy. I think I am going to need a big wall map of the Forgotten Realms like I do for Victorian London.

We get get two chapters that cover the Current Economy and Politics of Thay, respectively. This includes a helpful glossary and a player's guide to Thay.

Magic in Thay, as expected, is one of the larger sections. It has what seems to be a Realms staple; lots of new spells.

Religions in Thay, is actually an interesting chapter. The Red Wizards themselves seem to be areligious but not atheists. They acknowledge the gods and do their best not to piss them off. I imagine there are big "media circuses" for when a Zulkir visits a local temple to Mystra for example.

This has given me an idea. So, according to this book, the slaves of Thay mostly worship Ilmater, who we know from Ed Greenwood's "Down to Earth Divinity," that Ilmater is derived from Issek of the Jug. What if there were some events like "Lean Times in Lankhmar" where Ilmater, via a new follower, took on a role like that Fafhrd did for Issek, but instead of a religious conversion/resurgence, it became the basis for a full-scale slave revolt. Now that is a BATTLESYSTEM game I'd enjoy running.

Personalities of Thay cover the expected cast of neer-do-wells. OF note here The Simbul does not have a personal name here, yet.

Adventures in Thay give the reader some ideas of things to do in and around Thay. But let us be honest. It is an evil filled with Nazi-like evil wizards who keep slaves. The ideas abound already.

The POD versions are nice. The text has a bit of fuzziness, but far less than other PODs I have seen. They are not perfect for, say, collectors but perfect for what I need them for, and that is used at my game table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FR6 Dreams of the Red Wizards (1e)
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Gamma World Game Rules (4e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2024 13:40:38

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/05/retrospective-tsrs-gamma-world.html

There are currently seven editions of Gamma World, all following the same general theme: It is the 25th Century, and the Earth has been nearly destroyed by some global cataclysm. The nature of this cataclysm and the amount of humanity that survived changes from edition to edition.

All editions of Gamma World are credited to James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet. It was based on Ward's earlier sci-fi game, Metamorphosis Alpha. MA would give us Gamma World and the AD&D adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

The remnants of humanity and other beings now struggle to survive in a harsh and mutated world filled with bizarre creatures, dangerous mutants, and remnants of advanced technology.

Like Dungeons & Dragons, players take on the roles of adventurers exploring this radioactive wasteland. They can choose from various mutant characters with unique abilities, ranging from humanoid animals and plant people to cyborgs and psychic mutants.

Characters adventure in abandoned, destroyed cities, looking for the remains of civilization or something to survive in the wasteland.

In many, many ways, Gamma World IS Dungeons & Dragons. There is no magic, but there are high-tech, weird radiation and psychic powers. Making Gamma World into a D&D world is not a stretch. The 1st and 2nd edition rules are similar enough to Basic-era and AD&D 1st editions to make translations easy. In fact, the 1st edition of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide has conversion guidelines. Gamma World 4th edition is also very close to AD&D 2nd edition to make translations there east too. Dragon Magazine #183 has a conversion guideline for Gamma Word 4th edition and AD&D 2nd edition.

Gamma World 4th Edition

This edition of the game brought it back to its roots, so to speak. It is very compatible with the then-current AD&D 2nd Edition. There are some very interesting design choices here too including a good skill system and a very d20 like combat resolution system with "Ascending" armor classes. In some ways you could adapt this to AD&D for a near AD&D 2.5 edition that shows a good transition between AD&D 2nd ed and what will become D&D 3rd edition, but that is 8 years and a different company in the future.

Interestingly, this edition was also playtested over the GEnie BBS service way back before the internet became ubiquitous.

The art in this edition features some of the best art from the "Four Horsemen of TSR," Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, and Keith Parkinson.

Sadly, this was to be the last version of Gamma World to be produced by TSR. They announced they were going to switch gears and do a new version of Metamorphosis Alpha for their new Amazing Engine game line.

Which one should you get?

All things being equal, I would go for the 4th edition rules myself. The 1st and 2nd have a great nostalgia factor for me, and while I have the 1st Edition, I likely go with the 2nd.

The 1st, 3rd, and 4th edition rules are all available as Print on Demand versions now. So that is also in their favor. I understand the 4th edition rules are very clean and a good print. I can vouch for the 1st edition rules myself. The 3rd has some issues, but I am also not a fan of the action table, so I am giving it a pass.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gamma World Game Rules (4e)
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Gamma World (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2024 13:40:26

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/05/retrospective-tsrs-gamma-world.html

There are currently seven editions of Gamma World, all following the same general theme: It is the 25th Century, and the Earth has been nearly destroyed by some global cataclysm. The nature of this cataclysm and the amount of humanity that survived changes from edition to edition.

All editions of Gamma World are credited to James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet. It was based on Ward's earlier sci-fi game, Metamorphosis Alpha. MA would give us Gamma World and the AD&D adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

The remnants of humanity and other beings now struggle to survive in a harsh and mutated world filled with bizarre creatures, dangerous mutants, and remnants of advanced technology.

Like Dungeons & Dragons, players take on the roles of adventurers exploring this radioactive wasteland. They can choose from various mutant characters with unique abilities, ranging from humanoid animals and plant people to cyborgs and psychic mutants.

Characters adventure in abandoned, destroyed cities, looking for the remains of civilization or something to survive in the wasteland.

In many, many ways, Gamma World IS Dungeons & Dragons. There is no magic, but there are high-tech, weird radiation and psychic powers. Making Gamma World into a D&D world is not a stretch. The 1st and 2nd edition rules are similar enough to Basic-era and AD&D 1st editions to make translations easy. In fact, the 1st edition of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide has conversion guidelines. Gamma World 4th edition is also very close to AD&D 2nd edition to make translations there east too. Dragon Magazine #183 has a conversion guideline for Gamma Word 4th edition and AD&D 2nd edition.

Gamma World 3rd Edition

This version of Gamma World also expands on the earlier editions. Notable setting changes include doubling the number of humans that died in the apocalypse and the rules have changed. While characters are still generated the same way and all the stat blocks look similar there is an addition of an "Action Table" for rolling outcomes. The feel is similar to what we see in 1st Edition Chill from Pacesetter and TSR's own Marvel Super Heroes RPG's FASERIP system. The system requires only a d6 and a d10. There are notes on how to use to generate other types of dice rolls.

Unlike GW1 and GW2, this version was not as out of the box compatible with D&D to the same degree the others were. Characters, as did the monsters, still looked very similar, but the system was different enough to increase the incompatibility.

The idea here was to streamline the game and make the action faster. Sadly, several errors in the game made this difficult. It did feature one of the first meta-plot arcs for Gamma World, but sadly was not finished in print.

Which one should you get?

All things being equal, I would go for the 4th edition rules myself. The 1st and 2nd have a great nostalgia factor for me, and while I have the 1st Edition, I likely go with the 2nd.

The 1st, 3rd, and 4th edition rules are all available as Print on Demand versions now. So that is also in their favor. I understand the 4th edition rules are very clean and a good print. I can vouch for the 1st edition rules myself. The 3rd has some issues, but I am also not a fan of the action table, so I am giving it a pass.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Gamma World (3rd Edition)
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Gamma World 2e
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2024 13:40:05

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/05/retrospective-tsrs-gamma-world.html

There are currently seven editions of Gamma World, all following the same general theme: It is the 25th Century, and the Earth has been nearly destroyed by some global cataclysm. The nature of this cataclysm and the amount of humanity that survived changes from edition to edition.

All editions of Gamma World are credited to James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet. It was based on Ward's earlier sci-fi game, Metamorphosis Alpha. MA would give us Gamma World and the AD&D adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

The remnants of humanity and other beings now struggle to survive in a harsh and mutated world filled with bizarre creatures, dangerous mutants, and remnants of advanced technology.

Like Dungeons & Dragons, players take on the roles of adventurers exploring this radioactive wasteland. They can choose from various mutant characters with unique abilities, ranging from humanoid animals and plant people to cyborgs and psychic mutants.

Characters adventure in abandoned, destroyed cities, looking for the remains of civilization or something to survive in the wasteland.

In many, many ways, Gamma World IS Dungeons & Dragons. There is no magic, but there are high-tech, weird radiation and psychic powers. Making Gamma World into a D&D world is not a stretch. The 1st and 2nd edition rules are similar enough to Basic-era and AD&D 1st editions to make translations easy. In fact, the 1st edition of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide has conversion guidelines. Gamma World 4th edition is also very close to AD&D 2nd edition to make translations there east too. Dragon Magazine #183 has a conversion guideline for Gamma Word 4th edition and AD&D 2nd edition.

Gamma World 2nd Edition

This was one of the more popular versions of the game, coming out at the height of classic D&D's popularity. While I mentioned it is compatible with AD&D 1st edition, it has more in common with the Red Box D&D Basic that came out around the same time. It even came with the same sort of dice as the Basic sets. Considering that GW1 most closely resembles the Moldvay Basic set, this is not a surprise.

Gamma World 2nd edition is compatible with GW 1st edition, and is generally the same rules expanded and cleared up. Even the adventures and products for this game kept the same numbering codes from 1st edition.

This edition is expanded over GW1 and includes an introductory adventure. There are few more "monsters" in this one as well, but I'd need to set them side by side to figure out which ones are new.

Which one should you get?

All things being equal, I would go for the 4th edition rules myself. The 1st and 2nd have a great nostalgia factor for me, and while I have the 1st Edition, I likely go with the 2nd.

The 1st, 3rd, and 4th edition rules are all available as Print on Demand versions now. So that is also in their favor. I understand the 4th edition rules are very clean and a good print. I can vouch for the 1st edition rules myself. The 3rd has some issues, but I am also not a fan of the action table, so I am giving it a pass.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gamma World 2e
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Engine: The AGE Roleplaying Game Magazine #1
Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2024 15:59:33

I love fanzines, magazines, and any serialized content I can get for the games I love. So as soon as I saw "Engine: The AGE Roleplaying Game Magazine #1" was out, I grabbed it right away! I love the AGE system and wish I did more with it. This inaugural issue features content from Joseph Carriker, Stephen Michael DiPesa, Steve Kenson, Jon Leitheusser, Ian Lemke, and Malcolm Sheppard—a who's who of AGE development. And at $6 for 34 pages it is also not a bad deal. Looking forward to see a lot more of these!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Engine: The AGE Roleplaying Game Magazine #1
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Moving Maze of the Mad Master
Publisher: Dark Wizard Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2024 15:00:50

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/03/review-return-to-world-of-maximum-mayhem.html

You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest adventures in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules. Thankfully with the way he writes and produces these just about any "old-school" rules system is going to work.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master

by Alan Chamberlain, 40 pages. For levels 6-10. Art by Jacob Blackmon, Alan Chamberlain, Ed Lacabanne, Mark Lyons, Brian McCranie, and Phil Stone.

This one is by Alan Chamberlain, who was also on The Dread Swamp of the Banshee and Vault of the Dwarven King. So the feel is right. In fact, until Mark kickstarted his Maximum Mayhem #8: Funhouse Dungeon of the Puppet Jester, THIS was the funhouse dungeon.

The premise is simple but very effective. A bunch of metal monsters are attacking small towns and villages, and the PCs decide to help. What we get is an honest-to-Gary, Mad Scientist building all sorts of clockwork and autonomous horrors. To get to him, you need to get through his maze of deadly traps and clockwork terrors.

If the other adventure is a meat grinder, then this one is a food processor. It's brutal, but of course, the fun is just as great.

You could get this one for the circular maze map and all the stats of the clockwork creatures alone (6) for a total of 11 new monsters.

It's insane, really.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Moving Maze of the Mad Master
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Dread Swamp of the Banshee
Publisher: Dark Wizard Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2024 15:00:13

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/03/review-return-to-world-of-maximum-mayhem.html

You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest adventures in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules. Thankfully with the way he writes and produces these just about any "old-school" rules system is going to work.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #7: Dread Swamp of the Banshee

by Mark Taormino and Alan Chamberlain, 48 pages. For levels 4-8. Art by Jacob Blackmon, Brian Brinlee, Ed Lacabanne, Mark Lyons, Brian McCranie, Matthew Ray, and Phil Stone.

A noblewoman has returned to her family estate and finds it has been taken over by a swamp. Worse, there is an evil banshee stalking the lands. But what is the noblewoman hiding?

This adventure is for characters of 4th to 8th level. But I will say this. 4th and 5th level characters are going to die. This is not a meat-grinder like Hanging Coffins, but it is deadly. There is a mystery here too so, so it is not all fireballs and swordplay. But there is a lot of that too.

Like the adventures of old, there are also new monsters here. Mark always adds a little something like that. I also get the vibe that Mark and Alan were reading a lot of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. Not for the plot but just the feeling. It works here to be honest.

In the series, I would run this one after Vault of the Dwarven King and have the characters between the 5th and 8th levels. Not that Vault is easier, just not as deadly as this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dread Swamp of the Banshee
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Shadow of the Necromancer 5E
Publisher: Dark Wizard Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2024 14:58:46

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/03/review-return-to-world-of-maximum-mayhem.html

You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest adventures in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules. Thankfully with the way he writes and produces these just about any "old-school" rules system is going to work.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mini Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer

by Mark Taormino, 16 pages. For levels 1-3. Art by Phred Rawles, Chet Minton, Adam Black, Brian Brinlee, Carlos Castilho, Bradley McDevitt, and Phred Rawles.

The first edition has "blue" maps, and the fifth edition has full-color maps.

This is a mini adventure, and the first one Mark has done. Much like his Vampire Queen adventure I have used a figure called "The Necromancer" in my own games. Get out of my head Mark!!

These are designed to be played in one or two sessions. We managed to get through it in three short sessions. It has a great "Hammer Horror" vibe to it, and honestly, I rather love it.

The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , and one-page blank). The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true, and it works fine here. As with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, the adventure is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great, and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run. Exactly what you want in an adventure. Despite the size and scope Mark gives this one the same love and attention he does to all his larger adventures.

The plot and organization of the first and fifth editions are the same. The Fifth edition version features color maps.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow of the Necromancer 5E
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Shadow of the Necromancer 1E
Publisher: Dark Wizard Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2024 14:58:36

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/03/review-return-to-world-of-maximum-mayhem.html

You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest adventures in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules. Thankfully with the way he writes and produces these just about any "old-school" rules system is going to work.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mini Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer

by Mark Taormino, 16 pages. For levels 1-3. Art by Phred Rawles, Chet Minton, Adam Black, Brian Brinlee, Carlos Castilho, Bradley McDevitt, and Phred Rawles.

The first edition has "blue" maps, and the fifth edition has full-color maps.

This is a mini adventure, and the first one Mark has done. Much like his Vampire Queen adventure I have used a figure called "The Necromancer" in my own games. Get out of my head Mark!!

These are designed to be played in one or two sessions. We managed to get through it in three short sessions. It has a great "Hammer Horror" vibe to it, and honestly, I rather love it.

The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , and one-page blank). The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true, and it works fine here. As with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, the adventure is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great, and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run. Exactly what you want in an adventure. Despite the size and scope Mark gives this one the same love and attention he does to all his larger adventures.

The plot and organization of the first and fifth editions are the same. The Fifth edition version features color maps.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadow of the Necromancer 1E
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Village on the Borderlands 5E
Publisher: Dark Wizard Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2024 14:57:54

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2024/03/review-return-to-world-of-maximum-mayhem.html

You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest adventures in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules. Thankfully with the way he writes and produces these just about any "old-school" rules system is going to work.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0: Village on the Borderlands

by Mark Taormino, 64 pages. For levels 1-3. Art by Justin Davis, Jacob Blackmon, Carlos Castilho, Daniel Commerci, Jeff Dee, Felipe Faria, Mark Lyons, William McAusland, Brian McCranie, Matt Morrow and JE Shields. (How's that for a who's-who among OSR artists?)

The first edition has "blue" maps, and the fifth edition has full-color maps.

A lot of us freely mixed Basic D&D and Advanced D&D back in the early 80s. It was not uncommon then to find groups that had gone through B2 Keep on the Borderlands and T1 The Village of Hommlet. Mark knows this, and this adventure is a nod and homage to that experience. This is also Mark's biggest adventure to date.

While this could have come off as pastiche or, even worse, a bunch of hamfisted clichés, instead it is a nod and even an homage to not just how much fun those old adventures were, but also to the experiences we all had. Don't get me wrong, there is a great a adventure here; but if you were playing the Keep or the Village or Giants series back in the early 1980s then this will hit differently.

The is best described as "what if the Village of Hommlet was set outside the Cave of Chaos and not the Keep?" You have a local village in need of help. There are roving bands of ogres and weird fungi and skeletons. Whats a local farmer to do? Easy, call upon some brave, and expendable, adventurers for help.

There are some hooks for the adventure but for me they are unneeded. THOUGH I will add that the whole Valley of the Moon was a great hook for me. Not just because the name is similar enough to where my characters Maryah and Asabalom were from, but it is nothing if not a nod to one of my earliest crushes, Moon Unit Zappa.

We have all sorts of classic monsters, rumor tables, nods to (in)famous NPCs, tarot readings, standing stones, name puns, an inn to meet in, places to buy equipment and weapons.

The Inn of the Whistling Pig is wonderfully detailed and loaded with all sorts of characters. In fact, while reading, I half expected to see stand-ins for Duchess and Candella.

I said, "Caves of Chaos," but there are only a few caves where a lot of the "out of town" action takes place, and that is plenty. The Hill Giant cave is the first. There is also the Forest of Fallen Oaks, the Ruins of Sternholm Keep, and the Caverns of the Wicked Peaks.

A great non-linear adventure where the party can start at the Inn and head out in any direction to find adventure. They can come back, heal up, spend their loot and go back out, OR keep going. That last one is not advisable as everything here has a good reason to see the PCs dead.

There are hooks here to other Maximum Mayhem adventures, too.

The plot and organization of the first and fifth editions are the same. The Fifth edition version features color maps.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village on the Borderlands 5E
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