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The Witch's Daughter- Adventure Module GSAM01
Publisher: Grinning Skull Studios
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2022 10:21:52

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-witchs-daughter.html

I have spent all month so far working with adventures from various systems, tonight I think I will try a systemless one tonight.

The Witch's Daughter - Adventure Module GSAM01

PDF. 68 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

This is a systemless adventure centered around a village where a witch was attacked and killed leaving her daughter behind. The adventure is a quasi-sandbox. There are 60 some-odd pages of backstory and details of the village, its people, and most importantly the NPCs.

There is a lot here to be honest, maybe more than needed for an adventure? This is more of a mini-setting.

The strength of this adventure is the lack of stats. Why? I think by having go through the effort to stat ups the NPCs like Count Ducas Fellbane and the titular witch's daughter. For example, I might make Count Ducas a vampire. I know I shouldn't it would be so cliche, but I kinda want to do it to be honest. And the thing is. I can do this if I want.

Again, like some of the other adventures I have reviewed this month I might use this one to shore up some of the others that are not as rich in background as this one is. Yes. This adventure is perfectly fine on its own and it can be used anywhere. But my time is limited on how many adventures I can run; 14th level is going to be the max level.

I think I might try starting this up for a couple of systems to see which ones feel the best.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Witch's Daughter- Adventure Module GSAM01
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Gregorius21778: Vengeance of a Burned Witch
Publisher: Kai Pütz a.k.a Gregorius21778
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2022 09:05:09

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-vengeance-of.html

Tonight we have a slightly different take on the "Witch comes back for Vengeance" adventure. But is it different enough from what we have seen all month?

Vengeance of a Burned Witch

PDF. 15 pages. Color cover and interior art.

Or more properly, "Gregorius21778: Vengeance of a Burned Witch" with Gregorius21778 the label of Kai Pütz.

This is a tight little investigation adventure. The premise is simple, the PCs will stumble onto this village of Hillsgreen Crossing where last year they burned a witch, Ginniver by name, and now her ghost is back.

It is billed as a Halloween adventure, so perfect for this time of year.

I could go over the plot, but we have seen this sort before here. Instead I want to talk about what makes this one good. The idea is the PCs know nothing. Zip. Nada. If they want to know anything they have to go ask the mostly terrified villagers. They need to investigate, ask around, and piece the history and the present together. Plus they will need to figure out how to rid the village of this pesky witch.

Ginniver comes back not just as one, but two creatures. The first his her burned skeleton (which needs to be destroyed) and as a "Witch-Wraith" the ghost of a burned witch.

So to destroy this witch you have to destroy her skeleton and destroy the contract she signed, gives her something of what I would call a Unique Kill in other games.

Note we are warned up front that English is not the author's first language, but I did not find that to be an issue really. There is some canned text, but I use that only as a suggestion anyway.

All in all there is a lot of fun packed into just 13 pages of content.

It is PWYW with a suggested price of $1.00. Following my guidelines (which I haven't all year,b but whatever) a $1.50 is better. I say to encourage more like this toss them $2.00.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gregorius21778: Vengeance of a Burned Witch
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The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2022 08:34:01

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-dark-eye-witchs.html

The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance

PDF and Print. 16 pages. Color cover and interior art.

This is actually a rather good adventure to introduce people to The Dark Eye game.

Briefly, we have an evil warlock taking control of a small coven of witches. But one witch, Alevtia, refuses to submit. Luckily she finds the heroes. That's you all.

This is a detective story and wilderness adventure. So social skills are just as important as combat here. The characters will need to meet with the other members of the sisterhood to get all the details they need. But that also puts them in contact with the Warlock Codax, and he needs items from the heroes (hair, blood, saliva) to make his curses work.

There are plenty of interesting tables of rumors and various locations all throughout the area including a forest. There is even an ogre nearby (and stats for him) and "Predatory Mushrooms!" The adventure feel like a fairy tale.

Of course, the goal is to stop the warlock. He doesn't have to be killed even, there is a potion to turn him into a toad for example.

It is perfect for a couple of afternoons and even better for new players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dark Eye - Witch's Dance
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2022 14:39:04

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/review-dark-eye.html

I have known about this game for a while, both The Dark Eye and the original German Das Schwarze Auge. I always wanted to own the original German, having taken German in both high school and college, but not using a language for, well longer than I care to admit, you lose it. Das tut mir leid. The Dark Eye always attracted me as a sort of darker fantasy RPG. A game where Mirkwood is replaced by the Black Forest.

I picked the 2nd Printing of the English edition at my local game auction. I grabbed the core rules and a bunch of add-ons that I suspect came from Kickstarter. There is a lot and it all looks so good. There is even a basic QuickStart.

The Dark Eye - Core Rules

Hardcover & PDF. 414 pages. Full-color cover and interior art (and all of it is gorgeous).

For the purposes of this review, I am considering both my hardcover version and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

There is so much about this book and game that I love. Before I go into my deep dive I want to say that this game is wonderfully crunchy; this is not a rules-light game. BUT, and I can't stress this enough, it works so well here. This easily could have come across as an artifact of the mid-80s with some early 2000s notions added on, but it doesn't. It actually all holds together rather well. I can well imagine that this is what D&D would have been like if instead of the wilds of Wisconsin it grew up in the wilds of Germany. In both cases, the beer and brats would have been good. The adventuring world, Aventuria (and I will be discussing that more), is a dark place but the characters seem lighter for it. It is a nice antidote for the "Grimdark" worlds where the characters are equally grim.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter gives us the basics of the game including what an RPGs are. We also get some background on the adventuring land of Aventuria including the lands of Middenrealm and surrounding lands. There is a nice map too. We get a brief on all the gods and demigods and even the five major dragons of the world.

Chapter 2: Basic Rules

Covers what it says, basic rules. The game mostly uses d6s and d20s. There are eight attributes; Courage (Cou), Sagacity (Sag), Intuition (Int), Charisma (Cha), Dexterity (Dex), Agility (Agl), Constitution (Con), and Strength (Con). Remember I said it was wonderfully crunchy. Attribute checks are rolled on a 1d20, rolling under their score. Pretty easy. There are modifiers to these rolls as to be expected. A roll of "1" is a success and "20" is a botch. If a modifier ever brings an attribute below "1" then it can't be attempted. This chapter also covers the basic of Skill checks and combat.

There are also various Conditions, like confusion, pain, paralysis and so on that also modify various rolls and even combat and movement.

I think this great to have all of this up front since it helps with the Character Creation section next.

Chapter 3: Hero Creation

This chapter details character creation. There are 15 steps outlined. Sounds like a lot, but character creation is quite detailed. It is a 4-page character sheet after all. There are many human cultures that provide some roleplaying differences and some mechanical ones. Additionally, there are Elven and Dwarven cultures too. By Step 5 we are getting to allocating points to our Attributes. Going pretty fast so far. This is a point-buy system and like many modern RPGs you can set caps on attributes and the total number of points. You can choose a Profession (detailed in Chapter 6), as well as choosing Advantages and Disadvantages. You can then modify abilities, calculate combat techniques, choose any special abilities, calculate your derived characteristics, buy equipment, choose your starting age and name.

There are some sample characters given and some details of how they were made. With all these cultures, professions, advantages, and disadvantages you can make a wide variety of characters.

I created one for a Character Creation Challenge last year, the process was long but really fun.

Chapter 4: Races

This gets into detail on the races available to us. In addition to the Humans, Elves and Dwarves we have met there are also Half-Elves (who use elf or human culture).

Chapter 5: Cultures

Cultures are the more important aspect of your character's background. So there is more on culture than on race. The cultures are highly detailed and have some Earth analogues, but not exact copies which is nice.

Chapter 6: Professions

These are the "classes" of The Dark Eye. And there are a lot of them here. They are divided into three types, Mundane, Magical, and Blessed.

Mundanes include Bard, Courtier, Gladiator, Guard, Healer, Hunter, Knight, Mercenary, Merchant, Performer, Rogue, Sailor, Spy, Tribal Warrior, and Warrior.

Magical professions are: Spellweaver, Wyldrunner, Cat Witch, Raven Witch, Toad Witch (three witches!), Black Mage, Gray Mage, Guildless Mage, and White Mage.

Blessed professions are your cleric and religious types. They are: Blessed One of Boron, Blessed One of Hesinde, Blessed One of Peraine, Blessed One of Phex, Blessed One of Praios, and Blessed One of Rondra. Or, the various gods of the land, but not all of them.

Chapter 7: Advantages and Disadvantages

This covers the same lists found in character creation, but much more detail.

I am a huge fan of Advantages and Disadvantages. We used them all the time in Unisystem and became a great mechanic. I would love to see them ported over to D&D in someway. But I guess modern D&D has feats, so there is that. These are great here and hit all the ones I expect to see.

Chapter 8: Skills and Chapter 9: Combat

Both chapter deal with how to run skills, non-combat, and combat respectively. Chapter 8, like Chapter 7, provide more detail than what was presented in Character Creation, Chapter 3.

Chapter 10: Magic

My favorite part of any fantasy RPG is Magic. This one is no exception. In the Dark Eye we have two basic methods of controlling arcane power, Spellcasting and Rituals.

Now various spell-casting checks rely on different combinations of attributes, so no one mage is going to be great at everything unless all their attribute are high. Point-buy mostly assures this won't happen. Magic is a highly detailed affair, as to be expected. So one magic-using class is certainly not like the other.

There are rules for traditions, artifacts, illusions. Just tons of details here. It is certainly one of the most robust magic systems I have seen in a while. Even elves have a complete different set of magics.

And of course, there are spell listings.

Chapter 11: Works of the Gods

This is similar to the Magic chapter, but for the Blessed Ones. The magic here has different mechanics as to be expected really. While the "Spells" are largely similar format (for ease of reading) they feel very different.

Chapter 12: Detailed Rules

Covers all sorts of other rules. Healing, disease, poisons, heat and cold, and gaining experience. Also how Arcane Energy and Karma are replenished.

Chapter 13: Bestiary

Usually, my next favorite chapter after Magic and this one is great. We get all sorts of demons, elementals, animals, and familiars listed here. Obviously room for much more. The monsters are built like characters, so have similar statblocks.

Chapter 14: Equipment

All the gear your characters will need.

Chapter 15: Game Tips

Both tips for the Players and the GMs. Kudos to them showing apples as the game snack.

Appendix

This includes a checklist for optional rules (with page numbers), common abbreviations, and tables.

There is just SO MUCH with this game.

I am overjoyed AND overwhelmed with all the options. I can easily see why this game is so popular here and in Germany. It is a game I would love to do more with. There is just so much material to be had, both to buy and for free. There is even a Community Content section for fan-produced works.

I could spend another year with it and still be finding something new. My only regret is not having anyone I can play this one with.

Well. I suppose I will mine it for ideas.

This game will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it will be the perfect game out there for some groups.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dark Eye - Core Rules
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The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2022 08:29:59

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-priest-witch-and.html

Tonight we have a DMsGuild adventure for 5e. It has a lot great things going for it for my ongoing campaign so let's see what it can do for me.

The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure

PDF. 40 pages. Full-color cover and interior art.

This adventure is for characters levels 2 to 3. This fits the archetype of the "strange newcomers who MUST be witches" deal. Our two "witches", Ashali and Lathna, one a Red Wizard of Thay and the other her apprentice and lover, are not really witches, but everyone around them is treating them as such. Quick aside, I wrote a one-shot years ago when I first wanted to run something in the Realms about an underground of would-be good Red Wizards trying to escape Thay. They had help from a group in Aglarond. This ties in so perfectly to that adventure I might dust it off as an opening.

The focus of the adventure is to investigate the witches and find out they are mostly harmless but discover a bigger evil along the way. It works for me. It is a nice little adventure I can fit in nearly anywhere If I want. Though I do have some specific ideas. And let's be honest, who DOESN'T like stopping a bunch of undead?

There are some new magic items and new NPCs (featured for the adventure). The art is from DMsGuild so it is good, but the layout is something the author did and it looks good. So really a good-looking adventure.

The town of Whitehaven is just detailed enough to make it usable and enough detail left out to make it flexible. I really appreciate that bit. And much like the Villiage of Hommlet for Greyhawk, this would make for a good base of operations for low-level characters. I get why the adventure is for the 2nd to 3rd level, but I wonder if a bit of work could make it more suited to 1st to 3rd level for a true starting feel. You are far enough away from the Sword Coast to make it feel like a different world but still close enough to know where you are. If that makes sense.

Kudos to the author for taking a chance on a "good" or at least redeemed Red Wizard.

Is this a perfect adventure? No, but it is perfect for what I need it for.

For My War of the Witch Queens

There is so much here that fits right in, even if the witches themselves are not really witches. The "Whitehaven" of this adventure is a perfect stand-in for my own "West Haven." Indeed, much as I used "Haven" from Krynn as the alternate universe of West Haven in my world, the character will find themselves later in "Whitehaven" in the Realms and "Winterhaven" in the Nentir Vale.

Ashali and Lathna also fit in perfectly as a Red Wizard and her maid turned lover and apprentice that they are almost exactly like the characters I made (no plagiarism here, I never published mine!) so close in fact that I will drop the location I had them in (in Rashmeen) and instead have them here.

For a stronger link I might have them mention they knew the Witch Queen (but don't yet know she is dead).

So yeah, this one will work great for me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Priest, the Witch, and the Lost Temple: An Adventure
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Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (3.5)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 12:21:32

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/monstrous-mondays-demons.html

Demons, as D&D describes them, are Chaotic and Evil. But more than that they are of unrepentant evil. You never hear of demons becoming good, ever. So rare that when it does happen, it becomes a thing of legend. It also means that the only appropriate way to deal with a demon is to send it screaming back to the Abyss from where it came.

So if 2nd Ed AD&D was the golden age of Settings. Then 3rd and 4th Ed D&D was the golden age of fluff and story. Here I have some books about Demons and the Abyss with details that are still in use in 5th Edition today.

Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (D&D 3.5)

PDF and hardcover. 162 pages. Color covers and interior art.

Published in 2006 this product had three aims. First, update all the various demons to the 3.5 D&D rules. Second, introduce new rules about the Abyss and new demons. Finally to provide a more "PG" sort of book rather than the "R" rated Book of Vile Darkness. This book expands on everything we know so far. Indeed for a chaotic race, the power structure of the Abyss has been in place since the introduction of Eldritch Wizardry 30 years prior.

This book gives us the notion, likely introduced in the 2nd E and I may have missed it, that demons are spawned from the Abyss itself, which may also be alive.

Chapter 1: Demonic Lore

This covers what is currently known about demons and the Abyss. It also introduces a new source of demonic knowledge, the Black Scrolls of Ahm. We get a bit on demonic physiology, in this case, a dretch, though it is also noted this can vary from demon to demon. A bit on the nature of death in demons. Demonic roles and possession.

Chapter 2: Demons

Ah. Now I was one of the first ones to complain about the bowdlerization of Demons into Tanar'ri during the AD&D 2nd days. D&D 3rd Edition kept them, but also kept demons. Here is the payoff for them doing that. Tanar'ri are but one of three (in this book) types of demons. Green Ronin began this with their demon books early one and I even did it back at the end of my 2nd Ed days. It is a natural and logical assumption in my mind. And one I am glad to see here. The two new types are Loumara subtype (a new type of demon) and the Obyrith (an ancient, primeval type of demon). Each has different traits. So now demons are listed as something like "Always CE Medium outsider (chaotic, evil, extraplanar, tanar'ri)" or similar. There are still chaotic evil monsters in the abyss that are not any of the three demon sub-types.

Among the Loumara we have: Dybbuk, Ekolid, and Guecubu. For the Obyriths we have the Sibriex. There are more Obyrith lords coming up.

Chapter 3: Demon Lords

Here we have names going all the way back to the beginning, but all updated. The art for Demogorgon reminds me of the cover of Eldritch Wizardry. There are plenty of old favorites here. As well as plenty of new and somewhat revised ones. There are Obyrith lords like Dagon, Obox-ob, Pale Night, and Pazuzu. Dagon has had an interesting history in D&D due to the god, devil, and Lovecraftian creature that all share the same name. This Dagon tries to, and largely succeeds in, uniting all three into one horrible creature.

Chapter 4: Trafficking with Demons

Deals with demonic followers, both human and demon. It's 3.x so there are feats to be had here! There are also new spells and uses for skills. We are introduced to the Black Cult of Ahm and their lore including the various scrolls of Ahm. There is the Abyssal Mundus, the Black Writings, and the Rubric of Tulket nor Ahm. There is also the Transcriptions of Ergon, rumored to be an apprentice to Tulket nor Ahm.

Chapter 5: Into the Abyss

I mentioned this was a golden age of story and fluff, this chapter is a good example. We get a brief history of the Abyss, the various demon types, and of course The Blood War. We also get details on various Abyssal layers and areas. We get Graz'zt capital of Zeltar which exists on three layers simultaneously. The infamous Demonweb, Orcus' layer of Thanatos, and many more.

Appendix I covers all the lords of the Abyss, their titles, areas of concern, and their layers. Appendix II covers the known named layers of the Abyss and their rulers. Appendix III covers demonic monsters from other 3.x books.

Even if you are not playing 3.x or any system similar to it, this is still a great book on demons.

Having the PDFs I am tempted to print out the fluff sections and add them to a guide of demons I have had since the 2nd Edition days.

Maybe D&D is about demons after all?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (3.5)
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The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (4e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 12:21:22

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/monstrous-mondays-demons.html

Demons, as D&D describes them, are Chaotic and Evil. But more than that they are of unrepentant evil. You never hear of demons becoming good, ever. So rare that when it does happen, it becomes a thing of legend. It also means that the only appropriate way to deal with a demon is to send it screaming back to the Abyss from where it came.

So if 2nd Ed AD&D was the golden age of Settings. Then 3rd and 4th Ed D&D was the golden age of fluff and story. Here I have some books about Demons and the Abyss with details that are still in use in 5th Edition today.

The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (4e)

PDF and hardcover. 162 pages. Color covers and interior art.

This book also expands on demonic lore. This time for 4e. Though this book also expands on various chaotic and elemental forces. Making the connections between the Abyss and elemental chaos stronger.

This is divided in five chapters.

Chapter 1: Chaos Incarnate

This chapter covers the nature of the Elemental Chaos of the Astral Plane. You can see the start here of why Wizards of the Coast is setting Spelljamer in the Astral and not Wildspace. It makes sense. This deals with the nature of chaos, traveling in it, and features of the plane including hazards and various skill challenges.

For warlocks, there are even three new Patrons. And "new" cults like the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye. And "new" artifacts like the Crystal of Ebon Flame.

Chapter 2: Races of Chaos

This covers Archons, Djinn, Efreets, Genasi, Giants and Titans, Githzerai, Slaad, and brief entries on others like Dao, Dwarves, and Primoridals. No stats, all background information.

Chapter 3: Elemental Locales

Various important locales in the Elemental Chaos. These include The Brazen Bazaar, Canaughlin Bog, Gloamnull the City of Rain, Irdoc Morda, the Pillars of Creation, The Riverweb, the Glittering Mine (with encounters), and The Body Luminous (with adventure). Save for the last two there is only minor game-related details. So use in any game would work.

Chapter 4: Into the Abyss

Same title as Chapter 5 of Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss this covers similar ground. Travel and hazards of the Abyss, the so-called "bottom" of the infinite elemental chaos. We get a listing fo demons from other 4e books and ideas for adventures and skill challenges.

Some demonic locations are given and these are for the most part different than what we have had before.

Chapter 5: Creatures of Chaos

Now, this is the reason I pulled this one out for today. We get new oozes, new archons, and of course new demons. There are mostly elemental creatures here and chaotic ones like Slaad who are largely chaotic evil here. There are some unique creatures as well including Ygorl the Lord of Entropy.

Great material here.

Having the PDFs I am tempted to print out the fluff sections and add them to a guide of demons I have had since the 2nd Edition days.

Maybe D&D is about demons after all?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (4e)
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Demonomicon (4e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 12:21:13

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/monstrous-mondays-demons.html

Demons, as D&D describes them, are Chaotic and Evil. But more than that they are of unrepentant evil. You never hear of demons becoming good, ever. So rare that when it does happen, it becomes a thing of legend. It also means that the only appropriate way to deal with a demon is to send it screaming back to the Abyss from where it came.

So if 2nd Ed AD&D was the golden age of Settings. Then 3rd and 4th Ed D&D was the golden age of fluff and story. Here I have some books about Demons and the Abyss with details that are still in use in 5th Edition today.

Demonomicon (4e)

PDF and hardcover. 160 pages. Color covers and interior art.

Easily one of my favorite D&D 4e books. This one presages the 5e books with excerpts from the infamous Demonomicon of Iggwilv.

This one has three chapters, but each one is packed.

Chapter 1: Demonic Lore

Here get the introduction to the Demonomicon of Iggwilv, its history and its special features. We learn the first of six volumes titled the Demonomicon of Iggwilv was based on an earlier work, the Tome of Zyx. What follows is said to be from these tomes.

We go back to the birth of the Abyss with the Obyriths coming into this universe from their dying one. Here Tharizdun planted the "Seed of Evil" into the Astral Sea and from it, a tear in reality opened creating the Abyss. Here we learn that an ancient Primordial came to the Abyss to become one of the first Demons, he became known as Demogorgon. Here Dagon, an Obyrith, challenged Demogorgon for control while Obox-ob claimed the seed and became the first Demon Prince.

Here in this Dawn Time, the Cult of Elemental Evil was formed. Demons rose, Angels fell and soon even Tharizdun fell and was chained. Here we get the start of the Blood War.

Much like the Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss we get some details on Fiendish physiology. Most notable is how demons adapt to their environments by changing their physiology. We cover topics of demonic possession, demonic ascension, lords, cults, summoning demons (with one reused bit of art), and legions. There are legions for every demon lord but only a few are detailed here.

Quite a bit of material here that feels like an expansion of the material that came before it.

Likewise, there is some reused art, but it is good art so I can't complain.

Chapter 2: The Abyss

This one covers the nature of the Abyss, expanding on what the Elemental Chaos book covered. Many layers are also covered, most getting a few pages of content. Graz'zt layer of Azzagrat gets some detail. While some of this is familiar to readers of Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss it also provides new details and different information. This is true for some other layers as well.

There are also minor realms and Abyssal portals, delves, and temples. Some with encounter information.

Chapter 3: Demons

There are 45 new abyssal monsters here which are mostly demons (Tanar'ri and Obyrith) and a few Demon Lords not covered in the Monster Manuals.

If you are playing 4e and dealing with demons (which many of the adventures do) then this is really a must-have book. If you like the history of demons in D&D then this is also a must-have.

Having the PDFs I am tempted to print out the fluff sections and add them to a guide of demons I have had since the 2nd Edition days.

Maybe D&D is about demons after all?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demonomicon (4e)
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Tomb of the Witch Queen
Publisher: Jon Paget Roleplay
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 08:28:23

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-tomb-of-witch.html

Tomb of the Witch Queen (5e)

PDF. 13 pages. Color cover and interior art.

Truthfully it is not fair to compare this one to ones done by professional teams with Kickstarter money. This is just one guy, Jon Paget, doing things on his own. The adventure is for 5e and claims to be for characters 1st to 12th level. Ok.

We start this one like so many of the other witch queen tomb adventures. The PCs hear of about the tomb and the riches within. Officials have gone to seek it out but never returned. So it decided that expendable experts are needed. That's the PCs.

The adventure can be scaled to three different levels Low (levels 1-4), Mid (levels 4-8), and High (9-12). The adventure is divided into four separate "layers." Each follows the last and increases in difficulty. Until you reach the tomb of Sassaya herself.

I can see this being a good Convention style game when people could bring their own characters.

But I am not sure if even this idea overcomes some of the shortcomings of this adventure. The adventure is as linear as it can get. While I am ok ignoring this in some older adventures, this is a 5e one published in 2021. The rewards at the end are uninspired. Sure there is a table to scale the rewards, but this sort of thing comes right out of the DMG of many editions. I don't need an adventure for that. Give me some new magic or something interesting. NOW there are some here. There is a d12 table of interesting additional rewards. THAT should have been the model for the main rewards. Again I have said it many times, if I am going to plunder a witch's tomb I better find some cool spell books.

I mentioned the adventure was linear. Well it is so much so that there are no proper maps. The Labyrinth, Level (or Layer previous) 3 has a kind of a flow-charty color-coded thing that the author obviously is proud of AND it is a neat idea in theory. I am not sure how it acts in practice though. Maybe I am getting hung up on the word "Labyrinth". This piece does look like it scales well.

The list price is just under $5. Even by my revised guidelines of 25 cents a page for content (this has 10 pages of content for 13 overall pages) that only gets us to $2.50. There is not much in the way of art; no imagery of what the characters might see for example. Only one newish monster with a stat block. Mostly skill checks really. If it had been at or under $2.50 I could have merited giving it another star.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of the Witch Queen
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for your honest review, including the module's shortcomings. I've adjusted the price and given more of a description to explain that the labyrinth isn't a mapped out area, but rather a player-led section of the roleplay.
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Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen
Publisher: Autarch
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 08:26:04

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-sepulcher-of.html

Robert E. Howard casts a long shadow over Fantasy Role Playing in general and D&D in particular. This is best seen in two different near clones, Adventurer Conqueror King and Hyperborea. So when ACKS did an adventure that was an homage to Taramis and "A Witch Shall be Born", well I had to check it out.

Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen

Print and PDF. 56 pages. Color cover and interior layout art with black & white art.

For Character levels 7th to 9th.

Ok. So another tomb with a sleeping undead witch. It is a powerful trope. This one features the Sorceress-Queen Semiramis of Zahar who has been dead, but sleeping, for 1000 years. She had been betrayed by a former lover (and having killed her first 100 lovers she should have seen this one coming) and is now waiting for her chance to rise and rule again.

The adventure is part of a loosely connected series but it is mentioned that it can be used as a stand-alone adventure and placed anywhere.

The adventure involves going into her tomb, stopping her from rising, and maybe make off with some treasure. The tomb is full of undead horrors and other dangers. To make things more interesting there is a group of lizardmen in the tomb trying to do the same thing as the characters.

It then becomes a race against time, times 2. Get to the queen before she gains her full power and get to the treasures before the lizard men do.

The adventure gives us a bunch on new magic items, a new spell, and five new (ish) monsters. The adventure itself is cut from familiar cloth but the map is quite good and great for groups that like to explore old tombs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sepulcher of the Sorceress-Queen
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The Baleful Coven (5E)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/17/2022 08:23:41

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-baleful-coven-5e.html

Unlike the others I have reviewed so far this month I do not have a spot for this one figured out. So maybe something will come to me while I type.

The Baleful Coven (5E)

Print and PDF. 24 pages. Color cover and interior art.

For five to seven characters of 6th to 7th level.

It is described as bringing standard fantasy characters into contact with threats of the "Far East." Which is cool, to be honest. Not sure if it will fit into my game just yet, but I like the promise of it so far. It does have one of my favorite archetypes, the white-haired witch, and there is a coven made up of a hag and two warlocks.

I am going to pause here to note that this was originally a Pathfinder adventure. I bought the PDF of it a while back but I now notice it is gone from both DriveThru's and Paizo's websites. I mention this because I feel some of the fingerprints of Pathfinder, and in particular how they handled witches and hags, can be seen in the 5e version here. For example, while a warlock here, Masami Onishi is very much a "White Haired Witch" from Pathfinder. This is not a complaint mind you. Save in only I wish the Pathfinder version was still available. Granted it was released 10 years ago.

The bulk of the adventure takes place on the demi-plane of The Dream of Vengeful Reckoning. Ok, I do rather like that too. The adventure then becomes a search for how to leave this demi-plane. Naturally defeating this coven of "witches" is one of the ways to do it.

The adventure is actually rather well put together and I can see it being run over a long afternoon-evening or a could of smaller sessions. This is exactly what it was designed for. There are memorable NPCs which is the real hook for me.

So yeah a fun adventure with some great ideas.

Use with my War of the Witch Queens

There is a solid idea here, but not the one I think Legendary Games wants me to hook into. I mentioned the NPCs were memorable, and they are interesting, but you know what would be better? If I took three witches from three different adventures the characters had "defeated" and used them. I have seen enough movies this month where witches come back to some form of life to get vengeance on those who killed them. Set them up into a demi-plane, or for my purposes, a Liminal Plane, where the dead witches can get their vengeance on the still-living PCs.

This is for 6th to 7th level so it would need to be part of an earlier adventure. My top choices right now are Trilena (Rahasia), Llorona (The Witch of the Tarriswoods), Kyleth (Saga of the Witch Queen), and Morfa (The Witch Queen of Cair Urnahc). I just need to pick three. Though Morfa and Trilena have both come back from the dead once already. I do admit that Kyleth on the top of the list to replace Masami Onishi. While I know a couple are supposed to be hags I feel that is a hold-over from the Pathfinder adventure where only witches with hags can make covens. Also no need for me to add more winter witches, my cup is over flowing with them!

But what good is killing a villain if you can't bring them back from the dead to terrorize your players? I mean characters. Yeah. Characters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Baleful Coven (5E)
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B/X Essentials PDF Bundle [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2022 13:19:51

Fantastic system. I was glad to grab all of these before OSE came out. Now redundant, but I still love having my copies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Essentials PDF Bundle [BUNDLE]
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Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2022 00:44:43

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-adventure-module.html

Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble

PDF and softcover book. 20 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 3rd to 5th level.

For this one I have both the PDF and softcover versions. Also, we are given our first real and proper introduction to the "Witch Queen" none other than Natasha. It has everything a good adventure should have. Plots and intrigue, a ruined tower, cultists, caves, giant bugs, new monsters and new spells.

In this one, you have to stop the Dark Star coven dedicated to Natasha.

Again the witches of Natasha are presented as clerics or you can use the BRW Witch class.

I also admit I find the modules colored in Red, Blue, and Green to be very esthetically pleasing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Module V3 - Toil and Trouble
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Adventure Module V2 - Red in Tooth and Claw
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2022 00:44:39

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-adventure-module.html

Adventure Module V2 - Red in Tooth and Claw

PDF. 12 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 2nd to 3rd level.

This one takes place six months after the first adventure in the series. Following the pattern laid down at the time of the earliest adventures this one now includes some hex-crawling with some random encounters. These are encountered before the party returns to Volage. Indeed this module is very explicitly a hex crawl to investigate the area around the Hamlet of Volage. So there is no true purpose or "victory condition" nor should there be. The purpose is the exploration of the surrounding area. Though there is the threat of the Dark Star Coven. Details have to be uncovered before the next adventure can take place. There is a nice little teaser about the "Queen of Witches."

I will admit I not 100% sure why it has to be 6 months later except to allow a season to pass.

The most fun here are the werewolves in the woods.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Module V2 - Red in Tooth and Claw
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Adventure Module V1 - The Hamlet of Volage
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2022 00:44:29

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/100-days-of-halloween-adventure-module.html

Adventure Module V1 - The Hamlet of Volage

PDF. 13 pages (+ covers). Color cover, black & white interior art.

Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 1st to 3rd level.

This is where we get our "V" in the V series; the Hamlet of Volage (not to be confused with the Village of Hommlet a few miles over). This adventure introduces the players (and characters) to Volage which in the middle of a battleground between two warring covens of witches. The Cloven Hoof Coven (Diabolic) and the Dark Star Coven (Demonic).

Though the adventure does not start that big. It begins rather with a rivalry between local families and accusations of witchcraft.

Much like the adventures this is an homage too, we get a nice selection of memorable NPCs. Tables of rumors (some true, some false) and a village.

In this first adventure, you have to deal with the witches (here a subclass of Cleric) of the Cloven Hoof coven. Their patron is Dispater. Nice, great choice. Though there is a note that if you have BRW Games product Darker Paths 2 - The Witch you can use that for these NPCs.

There are some new spells and two new magic items.

It feels like it can be played in an afternoon or longer setting, maybe 6 hours. Faster if the PCs figure out what is going on.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Module V1 - The Hamlet of Volage
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