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Book of Lost Lore
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2021 11:00:57

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-adventures-dark-deep-book-of.html

Today I want to review the companion book from the same Kickstarter, Book of Lost Lore. I went into this one less excited than I did with the Book of Lost Beasts, but not due to anything on the part of this book. I am always more enthusiastic about monster books. I just have to make sure that I am not making unfair comparisons. I will be making a lot of comparisons with this book and others, however.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

For this review, I am considering the Hardcover I received as a Kickstarter backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG. BRW does their print fulfillment via DriveThru, so I conveniently have my PDFs where I expect them and I know what sort of product I am getting in terms of Print on Demand.

The book itself is 134 pages, full-color cover, and has black and white interior art. The layout and art are a tribute to the "2nd covers" of the AD&D 1st Edition line. So it looks nice with your original books and other OSR books designed the same way.

Like the Book of Lost Beasts, this book carries the Adventures Dark & Deep banner, but it is not made for that game. It is material from that game ported "Backwards" to the AD&D 1st Edition rules. So again like Book of Beasts, some of this material has been seen before, though not all in 1st Edition format/rules.

Much of the material does come from Bloch's "What If" game, Adventures Dark & Deep, and in particular, the Players Manual which itself was derived from BRW Games' very first product A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (now discontinued). This is all acknowledged in the Preface of the book. The selling point of this book is that it is all revised and edited for the "First Edition of the world's most popular RPG." Not to mention the layout now favors the 1st ed feel rather than the Adventures Dark & Deep feel.

Though as we move on you will see that the biggest comparison that needs to be made is this book to the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.

On to the book proper now.

This book is split between a Players' Section (close to 98 pages) and GMs' section (36 or so pages).

Players' Section

This section covers new races, classes, and spells among other topics that I will discuss.

Up first, the new races. Here we are given three "new" races for player characters. These are the Centaur, the Forrest Gnome, and the Half-Drow, of which we get Human-Drow and Elf-Drow. Those unfamiliar with AD&D 1st ed might be surprised to see level limits and ability limits for the races. Some are pretty obvious, centaurs tend to be stronger but can't climb walls as a thief. Others are culture-based, drow women can advance more in most classes than their male counterparts due to their matriarchal society, but not as much as wizards since that class is not valued. While back in the day we really ignored all these rules in AD&D (and they do not exist in 21st Century D&D) they are consistent with the rules and anyone who plays AD&D 1st ed exclusively will take to these easy.

The races seem balanced enough. The centaur is a nice addition and one that really could go into AD&D well enough. I personally have never had a desire to play one, but they do seem to work. The forest gnome is also a good choice and a good option for people more familiar with 21st century D&D gnomes. The coverage of the half-drow is very interesting and the stand-out of the three. Given some other things I have crossed my awareness this past week or so I am wanting to try out a half-drow now. I will need to come back to this one later on.

Classes are likely the top feature of this book. They are also the ones that we have seen before. There are Bards, Jesters, Skalds, Blackguards, Mystics, Savants, and Mountebanks. Let me repeat. While we have seen these before in other BRW products they are presented here as 1st Edition characters classes and as subclasses of existing 1st Ed classes. Except the Bard, the Bard is it's own class with the Jester and Skald as sub-classes of the Bard. The Blackguard (or Anti-Paladin) is a subclass of the Cavalier to give you an idea where this book would "fit" into the AD&D 1st Ed lineup.

It should be noted is a usable single Bard class. No more advancing as a thief, fighter, and then druid to get to the bard, this is a straight out bard class. The bard also has some nice powers too. The mystic class seems closer to the BECMI/RC version than it does to the monk. It was also the focus of one of my very first "Class Struggles" features. I am a little surprised we didn't see versions of BRW Games' Necromancer, Witch, or Demonolater classes. Likey to keep these with the Adventures Dark & Deep game.

From Classes, we move on to Secondary Skills. AD&D 1st Ed has never really been about skills outside of what your character class can do. While back then I saw this as a problem, I am less inclined to think so now. Still, a good selection of secondary skills are listed here and how they can be used.

The next 35 or so pages are dedicated to new spells. Mostly these support the new magic-using classes, though some spells are cross-listed for other classes.

The last part of the player's section is given over to combat and new weapons and armor. The arms and armor described here do show an appreciated level of research. One that would have made Gary and his 6 pages of pole-arms very happy.

Game Masters' Section

This section is not as large but still has gems; figurative and literal.

Up first are some guidelines for social encounters including reactions. There are some alternate treasure rules that uses the same Treasure Type classification but breaks it down into different categories. Both the original system and this system can be used interchangeably, even within the same game, with the Game Master deciding what works better at the time.

There are some new magic items, with updated tables to include them.

Finally some discussion on the game environment including ability checks.

Honestly, the only thing it is missing to be "Unearthed Arcana II" is an appendix on the gods of the Centaurs.

Some art has appeared before in other BRW books but all of it captures the Old-School gaming feel.

So. Who is this book for?

The obvious answer is for anyone that plays First Edition AD&D. It should work fine with OSRIC, since that cleaves so close to AD&D, but not sure if players of Advanced Labyrinth Lord or Old School Essentials Advanced will get the same benefits. For example, both of those other games have a Bard class that works about the same. That is not to say they would not get benefits from this book, it's just the base design principles are not 100% the same.

If you are a player of Adventures Dark & Deep then there is likely nothing new here for you. But if you have those books and still play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first ed. then there is enough here for you even if you can convert easily between the two games.

If you play AD&D 1st ed then this is a great book and it will sit nicely on your shelf or on your table next to your other AD&D books.

One minor point, the book was not released under the OGL. Doesn't matter for play or use only if you wanted to reuse a class or spell elsewhere. Though given the use I have seen of the OGL over the last 20+ years this is also likely not an issue.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lost Lore
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Dark Streets & Darker Secrets
Publisher: Gallant Knight Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/10/2021 14:43:04

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-dark-streets-darker-secrets.html

Dark Streets & Darker Secrets has been on my "To Be Reviewed" pile for a very long time. I grabbed the PDF when it came out, but set it aside for the longest time because I was working on a bunch of other things and didn't get the chance. I picked it back up and really enjoyed it. So much so I also picked it up in hardcover Print on Demand.

So let's get to it.

Dark Streets & Darker Secrets

by Diogo Nogueira. 222 pages, hardcover. Color cover with black and white interior art. For this review, I am considering both the PDF and the Print on Demand hardcovers from DriveThruRPG.

Dark Streets & Darker Secrets (DS&DS) is a modern occult horror game from ENnie Award winner Diogo Nogueira. The book is digest size so it fit well with many "old school" style books of the last 10 years. It not only fits on the shelf physically but thematically as well. The game is based on Nogueira's earlier works Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, so out of the gate there are more resources for this game if you desire.

The game itself is a gritty, modern occult/supernatural horror game. The normal humans are just slightly above average for the most part and the monsters are way more powerful. Immediately I thought of it as a bit of Chill mixed in with Kult. The feel is very much "humanity alone against the darkness."

The book is laid out in eight chapters with some appendices.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter covers the basics of what is in the book.

Chapter 2: Character Creation

If you have played any old-school-like game in the last 45+ years you have an idea what this chapter is about. The differences here fit the tone of the game. Character attributes are rolled using a 2d6+3 (not a 3d6 or even 4d6 drop the lowest), this creates a narrower band of character attributes, 5-15 but still on the same human range of 3-18. There is a chance to increase these later on. The attribute themselves are a simplified version of the Basic 6; Physique (combining Strength and Constitution), Agility (Dexterity), Intellect (Intelligence), and Willpower (Wisdom and Charisma). Once those are done you create a character concept which is a basic couple word description and not a backstory.

After this, it is time to choose the Archetype or essentially the class of the character. They are The Tough, The Nimble, The Smart, and The Gifted. These align with the attributes above. The Gifted is special in that you can be a spell-caster or even a supernatural creature like a vampire, werewolf, or even an alien. Each archetype also gets a "recovery roll" which decides how quick they can bounce back from injury.

Since this is a gritty sort of universe all characters have a complication. These can come into play in the game to keep things "difficult and exciting" for the characters. It includes a d66 table (roll 2d6 and use the rolls like d%. Traveller people know this one well).

Then you pick out some gear. If it is mundane gear you have it. You also get some weapons and "weird" gear. These are detailed in the next chapter.

Finally, we have derived scores. Vitality (Physique + Level) are your "hit points." Sanity, or mental stability, is equal to your Intellect. Now I have mentioned before I do not like how many games handle insanity or madness. Sadly this game is not an exception. I spent a few years working in a mental health facility back when I was in grad school. There is no relationship between intelligence and mental health. In fact, I had one guy who was schizophrenic and could speak 3 or 4 languages including German and Swahili. He learned I also spoke German and would use that when he wanted to talk about the other clients "in secret" to me. So yeah. I am not really a fan of this one. I'd rather roll a 2d6 and then add a bonus from Willpower (and maybe Intellect) to get my Sanity score. There is also Luck points which are like fate points or drama points (everyone starts with 3) and Money.

Chapter 3: Gear

Covers mundane gear, expendable gear (like ammunition and things that wear out) and even some weird gear. Weird items are the best part. Every character has one weird item they start off with. This is easily explainable either they found it and thus introduced to the weirder world OR they have always had it and the world is waiting for them. There is a d100 table that covers a bunch of different sorts of items. Note, we just get the names of the items, what they do will be discovered in-game.

Additionally, drugs, services, illegal goods, and money points (abstraction of money carried) are also dealt with.

Chapter 4: Rules of the City

Here are our basic rules for the game. Everything is an attribute check (roll under your attribute modified by level and difficulty). There are some neat quirks. There is an advantage/disadvantage system here called Positive and Negative rolls. Rolling on your attribute is considered a critical success. You roll lower than your attribute to succeed, BUT higher than the difficulty. So if something has a difficulty of 8 and my attribute is 12 I have to roll a 12 or lower BUT also higher than an 8. So only rolls of 9, 10, 11, and 12 will get me a success.

Players can add a Luck roll to their challenges. This is not a matter of just adding points. You have to roll a d6. If it is equal to or lower than their luck score then you get to make a situation more favorable.

This chapter also covers sanity and madness. You lose Sanity if you encounter something strange and fail a Willpower test. Difficulty set by the situation. Points lost also can vary. When the character's Sanit score reaches 0 then they get a Madness. Thankfully there is no list of "madnesses" here. Most game designers get these horribly wrong anyways. In game you get a minor "quirk" on your first loss. If you suffer 4 losses then the character has succumbed to madness and can't be played.

Level advancement is a form of Milestone advancement that looks like it should work rather well. Again individual GMs can (and should) alter this to fit their needs.

Chapter 5: Combat

Like many RPGs combat gets a special chapter even if it is just a particular form of the rules stated above. But if one is going to fight the armies of darkness then one is expected to actually fight. Reading through this you get the idea that yes the characters can be tough. You also get the idea that the things they are fighting are a lot tougher. While there are a few ways the players can save their character's bacon, there are still a lot of grisly ways to die in this game.

Chapter 6: Sorcery and Psychic Powers

Ah, now this is the meat of the game in my mind. A Gifted character can be a sorcerer, a witch, a psychic or some other type of creature. Their powers and how to use them are detailed here. Regardless of the origin or the nature of the powers, game-wise they are treated in similar manners, the difference largely being different Backlash tables. How they are played can vary wildly. I mentioned that this is grittier game than one would see in say a Buffy-like game. The previously mentioned Backlash is one and Corruption is another. These include simple things like a "witch's mark" to changes to one's body and mind or just getting pulled right into the Abyss. Pro-tip, don't botch your rolls.

A very nice (and long) list of powers is given with their effects. While the list is long (60 entries) it is not exhaustive.

Additionally, Arcane artifacts are covered. How they are made, what they do, powers, cost (to make AND to use), and some samples.

Chapter 7: Running the Game

This covers the world of DS&DS. There is a bias (is that the right word? Preference is better) to an urbane game. Thus the title really. Outside of this there is no set theme or even setting. This would be a sandbox game if it were a FRPG. What we do get here is a ton of tables full of ideas for a a game, campaign, or an entire world.

Chapter 8: Monsters

Our Monster chapter differs from other games in that there is not a bestiary here per se, but example creatures and the means to make others of a similar nature. So for example there is a Cultis section that covers some sample cultists from 1-3 HD to demon-possessed leaders of 4-8 HD. This includes a table of "What are They Doing?" and "What do They Want?" A very effective means of repurposing content. The more powerful the creature the more detail they need obviously, but there is not a lot of detail in most cases. This works well here since the players (mostly the GM) provide all the details. There are powers listed for random creatures as well.

Appendix O: Optional Rules

Here are a group of optional rules you can add to your game. Things like Drunken Luck, Daring Points, Single Hero games and Multi-Archetype (Multi-Class) Characters.

Appendix I: Inspirational Materials

Covers the various books, movies, TV Shows, and other RPGs for inspiration.

Appendix S: Simple Scenario Structure

This discusses how to build a quick scenario and an example.

We end with a Character Sheet (and a Form Fillable one is provided with the PDF) and the OGL statement. I do feel the need to point out that Nogueira has released this game as 100% Open Gaming Content.

Dark Streets & Darker Secrets certainly lives up to the hype and has a lot going for it. If you have a world already in your mind and just need a system to flesh it out then this is a great choice for you. In this respect, it is very similar to old-school D&D. No default world type, just the tools to play in the world of your imagination with some assumptions built-in.

If you are looking for huge meta-plotting like the World of Darkness or even the baked-in mythology of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you find that here, which is refreshing. The players all have maximum flexibility to do what they want and that is the key strength of this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Streets & Darker Secrets
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Book of Lost Beasts
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/08/2021 10:57:28

Orignally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/monstrous-monday-review-adventures-dark.html

Joseph Bloch at BRW games is really the model of how you should run a Kickstarter. When I look at a Kickstarter I want to know that the person running it has experience. The Kickstarter for Book of Lost Lore & Book of Lost Beasts was back in July. We were promised the books in March of 2022. I believe I got mine in late September or early October. Was there padding? Maybe, but I don't care. Getting books just a couple of months after pledging is still pretty good. Not to mention this has been true for the other five I have backed from Joseph/BRW. Plus I also like to see that the person running the knows what to expect. So I look to see how many they have backed. If it is a low number, or worse, zero, then I stay away. That is not the case with BRW Games.

That is all great and everything, but does the book hold up to all this excitement? Let's find out.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Beasts

This is one of two books that were part of BRW's Summer 2021 Kickstarter and the one I was looking forward to the most. The reasons should be obvious to anyone who has read my reviews over the years; I love monster books and consider the 1st Edition Monster Manual to be one of the greatest RPG books ever written. Sure there are better-written ones, but few that have had the impact of this one.

For this review, I am considering the Hardcover I received as a Kickstarter backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG. BRW does their print fulfillment via DriveThru, so I conveniently have my PDFs where I expect them and I know what sort of product I am getting in terms of Print on Demand.

The book itself is 132 page (about 128 of pure content), full-color cover and black and white interior art. The layout and art is a tribute to the "2nd covers" of the AD&D 1st Edition line. So it looks nice with your original books and other OSR books designed the same way.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Beasts is a collection of 205 monsters for the AD&D 1st Edition RPG. The book feels familiar (in more than one way) and can easily be added to your AD&D game. The monsters are alphabetically listed. At the start of the book, there are some details about playing Monster spell casters (Witch-doctors or Shamans) as well as some other minor rule changes/alterations. These chiefly involve whether a monster has psionics or not, and how an undead creature is turned. Additionally, there is more detail on the monster's treasure. While a Treasure Type is given it is asl broken down between Treasure Value and Magical Treasure. Monsters all get a Morale bonus listed to indicate if they will flee combat.

In the Preface, Bloch gives us a bit of history on his Adventures Dark and Deep RPG. While this book carries that heading, it does not use the Adventures Dark and Deep RPG rules except as noted above. IT uses the tried and true AD&D 1st Ed system. Also it is noted that many of these monsters presented here already appeared in his Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary, which I reviewed here. The Bestiary is 450+ pages and has monsters from the SRD plus more in the Adventures Dark and Deep RPG format. So you could convert them back to AD&D 1st Ed if you wanted. But this current book, the Book of Lost Beasts, has the new monsters from the Bestiary plus a few more already converted.

The brings up a good question. Should I buy this book? I am going to say yes, but here are some caveats. If you have the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary AND you are comfortable enough converting then maybe you don't need this. If you play AD&D and want more monsters then you should get this. If you don't have the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary and like monsters then you should get this. If you are like me and just love monsters and already have the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary then you should get this. I hope to make these points a little better below, but do keep in mind that some people have seen these monsters before.

That is just one of the ways this book feels familiar. The other way really lives up to its name of the Book of Lost Beasts. This book feels like Bloch took the Monster Manuals I and II (and to a lesser degree the Fiend Folio) and set out with the goal of "What monsters are missing?" and got to it. For example, the Quasi-Elementals are more filled out.

Another great example of providing us with "what was missing" AND giving us something new are the ranks of nobility of the Dao, Djinn, Effrti, Madrid, and Rakasha. While these creatures are found in the Monster Manuals and expanded on in the ADD Bestiary, they get a longer and more detailed treatment here.

After the 205 or so monsters there are appendices on Treasure Types and a random Creature for the Lower Planes generator. These were very popular in the pages of Dragon Magazine if you recall.

The PDF is currently $9.95 which is a good price for a PDF of a monster book, and $24.95 for the hardcover.

One minor point, the book was not released under the OGL. Doesn't matter for play or use only if you wanted to reuse a monster in an adventure. Though given the use I have seen of the OGL over the last 20+ years this is also likely not an issue.

If you are looking for a new monster book for use in your AD&D 1st Edition games then I can highly recommend this one. Plus it will look great sitting next to all your other AD&D 1st books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lost Beasts
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D6 Powers
Publisher: Khepera Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 20:14:29

Great super power supplement for the d6 system. Wish the d6 system was played more these days.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
D6 Powers
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:54

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #5 This issue is the last of the Kickstarter issues and also the largest so far at 42 pages. This issue covers the Ecology of the Orc and sets out to challenge our notions, or at least stereotypes of orcs. This is introduced in the starting fiction with Fleabag challenging the party to think about what sorts of orcs they might be dealing with. What follows is a very long Ecology Of and details of seven very different Orc clans.

In the Ecology Of we learn the basic structure of an orc clan including numbers, leadership, and organization. What follows are descriptions of seven example clans. They are, briefly: Small Clans are the various orc clans represented in pretty much all other RPGs. The Iron Shield Clan, a group of orcs more interested in making weapons, and selling them, than using them. Yellow Fang, a group of plains orcs that wear the skins of their enemies as clothing. Chaka Plains orcs are not pacifists per see, but understand the value of life and death and respect it. Meet them peacefully and you will be respected, meet them with violence and they will happily escort you to your next life. There are the sea-faring orc pirates and privateers of the Red Sails, but they only attack the wealthiest of ships. There are the imperialistic and arrogant orcs of the Baildan Daguulalt (Empire) that combine the best, and worst, characteristics of Imperialisy Britain and the Roman Empire. They are brilliant and utterly convinced of their own superiority, in fact they made the cover. Finally the orcs of the Silver Glacier might be the most dangerous of all these clans.

That is a lot! There are still a couple of magic items, some comics, new spells, and some hints about the next issue and a new class The Commander.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 4: Psionist
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:51

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #4 Now here is one I was quite excited for. This issue introduces us to the Psionist class for Chromatic Dungeons or any other clone. We start with some fluff with Fleabag and the aftermath of the Mushropod attack from the last issue. Fleabag describes a unique "spellcaster" they had met who what not a spellcaster at all. We then get into the class proper. Now I am very particular about my psychic and psionic using classes. Even to the point where I have a preferred term (it's "psychic" btw) and I need them to be very different than my spell-using classes. Also if their powers can be built up over time with disciplines, then all the better. This class satisfies two of those three. The class is flexible to use just about anywhere and easy to introduce. In fact, with the most minor of tweaks, a 5th Edition class can be found here. The psionist can choose one of three disciplines; Psychometabolism, Telekinesis, and Telepathy. There are powers with each one and they grow as the character levels up.

We also get an ersatz Mind Flayer in the Mind Eater and some comics. In the State of the Business, we learn this was the last issue of the original four set, with issue #5 coming as a stretch goal.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 4: Psionist
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 3: Mushropod
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:48

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #3 The third issue of The Gnoll Sage gives us the ecology of a monster introduced in the Chromatic Dungeons hardcover, the Mushropod. In the Ecology Of article, we get more details from our Gnoll on the Scene, Fleabag as they let us know what they have uncovered about the sentient mushrooms. Again the stat block reminds me of a 5e one, but everything here lends itself well to use of any 20th century D&D or clone.

There is a very brief adventure featuring these guys, some humor, three new magic items, some new NPCs, and a new spell. We end with the State of the Business note from Waibel where he mentions his Rise of Authur project. If you follow him at all online now (late Fall 2021) you have seen the characters he has been working on.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 3: Mushropod
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 2: Animist
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:44

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #2 In this second issue we are given the Animist class which is designed to replace classes like "the Witch doctor" or Shaman or even "Spirit Guide." This is a good thing since the term Animist encapsulates all of these ideas. It is a divine spellcaster in Chromatic Dungeons terms, but can easily be ported over to any other D&D/Clone. It could also be tweaked and added to D&D 5 if you like. The class and all it's powers take up 18 of the zine's 28 pages. I have not played it yet but it looks pretty solid.

The remainder of the book is given over to humor, the look forward, and a copy of the OGL.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 2: Animist
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 1
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:40

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #1

The first issue details the Mrav Covjecka, a group of insectoid/humanoid hybrids that need humanoid blood to nurse their brood. We get an "Ecology of" article as told to us by Fleabag. A monster statblock that can be used by any d20 based game including D&D 5.

There is also a brief adventure featuring the new monsters. There is the humor section, some new magic items, some NPCs you can meet, a section of new spells and upcoming topics in future books.

There is also the OGL statement at the end.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 1
Click to show product description

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Chromatic Dungeons RPG
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/03/2021 09:36:20

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-2.html

Today I want to cover the big game in the Chromatic Dungeons line. I call it the "Advanced" game, but the name on the cover is just Chromatic Dungeons RPG.

Note. I do want to point out that nowhere in the game nor in any online conversation has Roderic Waibel or Izegrim Creations called these rules "Advanced." This is just what I am calling them to differentiate them from the Basic Rules.

Again for this review, I am considering the hardcover I got as a Kickstarter Backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Note 2: I'll make allusions to the Basic game here. This is only to describe how these rules go above and beyond the basic rules. At no point in these rules did I see something that had you refer to the Basic rules for more details. This rulebook is complete on its own.

Chromatic Dungeons RPG

330 pages, hardcover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

If the Basic Game was meant to invoke feelings of the 1981 Moldvay Basic set then this book is clearly influenced by the earlier AD&D 1st Edition core rules. It is a hardcover for starters, larger, and provides more details for playing a CD game.

The rules are largely in line with and much more compatible with each other than say Basic D&D was to AD&D. This is one of the biggest reasons I was excited about this particular game. Back in the day we played D&D and AD&D interchangeably and tried to deal with the rule contradictions the very best we could. Here those contradictions do not exist except in the way that specific rules override general ones. Characters are more detailed, as are spells, monsters, and a host of other options, but never in a way they feel contradictory to the Basic Rules. Characters can move fairly freely between the games.

Ability Scores are chosen the same way 4d6 and drop the lowest. Here the general modifiers of the Basic game give way to specific ones for each ability and subscores, ie. to hit and damage adjustment for Strength, number of spells for Intelligence, followers for Charisma, and so on. Ability Checks are handled in the same fashion. Scores still cap at 18 for rolls or 20 with bonuses, but the charts go to 25 for the use of exceptional characters and monsters.

Ancestry covers what species you were born into. Dwarves come in Hill, Mountain, and Deep varieties. Elves can be High, Wood, or Deep. Humans and Halflings are back and joined by Gnomes. A table of alternate Ancestries is also given so you could play Gnolls, Centaurs, Orcs, or Goblins to name but a few. The system is simple enough that almost any sort of ancestry can be used.

Heritage, like the Basic game, covers the character's upbringing. This chart is the same as the Basic game, but expanded with more types.

Character Classes. This is the first of the really big changes. Where the Basic game has only three basic character types, this one has four major class groups with many sub-classes underneath. The feeling is that of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or AD&D 2nd Edition to be honest, with maybe just a touch of 5th Edition D&D. Each group shares an advancement table for HD calculations and to hit bonus along with a shared Saving Throw table. All groups share the same single XP per level table as per D&D 3rd through 5th Editions.

The first group is the Divine, which gives us Clerics and Druids. Divine Spellcasters are limited to 7th level spells. Warriors include the fighter, berserker, ranger, and paladin. Rogues are the most diverse lot with thieves, assassins, bards, and monks. Magic-users are arcane spellcasters and they get spells to 9th level. They include the Wizard and the Sorcerer which is a spell-point-based spell caster. Like the sorcerers of 3rd to 5th edition, they have a bloodline and some examples are detailed.

Multiclassing and Alignment are the same here as the Basic game. The unified XP chart makes multiclassing easier. Alignment is a three-point system of Law-Neutrality-Chaos.

Equipment is next. Very similar but expanded over the Basic game.

Spells is the next largest section of the book and also one of the three that gets the most changes. Spells are split out into classes with the Divine first (Cleric then Druid) then all the Arcane spells. The spells are all listed out alphabetically. Included now are staples like Area of Effect, Components, casting time, and saving throws. Each spell also has a school listed.

How to Play covers the game. This is roughly similar to the Basic Game, but it is expanded. Saving Throws are now added to the game. They are an interesting remix of Basic/AD&D and D&D3 style saves. More on traps, diseases, and hirelings are covered here.

Combat gets its own section. Here initiative is back to a d20 (not the d10 of the Basic game).

The Campaign deals with adventures, granting XP and what kinds of monsters can be found where. It ends with a sample play session.

The Bestiary is the last of the three big changes. Not only are all the monsters expanded on, but there are also more of them. The monsters are still sorted by categories or groups, but now there are more. There are Beasts, Demons, Devils, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Giants, Golems, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead. The stat blocks are expanded to give average scores for Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Special Attacks. Special Defenses and Magic Resistance are all now included.

As with the Basic game, many monsters do not have an alignment. Or rather their alignment is listed as n/a. In the case of animals (Beasts and Dinosaurs), it is because they lack intelligence or awareness. Others like humanoids it is because the Game Master can choose what they want. Notably, all Demons and Devils are Chaotic, Dragons are split between Lawful and Chaotic along the lines you think they are, Elementals are now properly Neutral, and Fey runs the spectrum. We get the usual suspects here, nothing jumping out at me as new save for the Mi-Go (not new, but not usual) and the mushropod (sorta new, but certainly NOT usual).

The Treasure section is also expanded. Included new are Sentient Weapons and rarity tables. There is a new section on crafting items including an ingredient listing with measures of rarity.

We end with appendices of tables, blank character sheets, indexes, and our OGL statement.

The PDF is fully bookmarked.

Like the Basic books, this book is filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it is from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it is clearly influenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and a variety of ethnicities, genders, and peoples are represented.

Again like the Basic books this is really directed at and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art, in this case, is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

The book "feels" like AD&D 1st Ed. Or maybe it is a 2nd Edition clone if that game had been produced later.

Because of how it is built it also feels like nearly anything can be used with it from nearly any area of D&D's history.

Who Should Buy This?

I said this yesterday about the Basic Chromatic Dungeons game, and it is true for this version as well. This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on its own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time and it is the perfect introduction to this "Advanced" game.

If you are like me and grew up on old-school games and now have a family that loves the newest version of the game then this is a good way to introduce them to old-school play. OR if you are new school player and want to try your hand at some old school play, but want to retain some of the options that make the new games so attractive, then this is a great game for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons RPG
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Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rulebook
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/02/2021 12:01:56

Orginally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-1-basic.html

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules Basic Rules, Player's Book. 86 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book. The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books. Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both. Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities. Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone." It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics. I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players. I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game. It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set. It is written for people that have never played before. This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.

Basic Rules, Player's Book We get an Introduction and Forward that helps explain the nature of this game, but also to set the stage for what we will see. The author wants to make it plain up front that this is an inclusive game and that everyone should feel welcome to it. This includes a brief overview of the game and a brief glosary of game terms to get everyone going.

Character Creation is first with the character concept and the rolling of ability scores. The method used here is 4d6, drop the lowest and arrange to suit your concept. This strikes a good balance between getting the character you want and old-school randomness. Want 3d6 in order? That game was already written and likely you already have it. After this you choose your Ancestry (and Heritage), Class and get equipment. Lets go into some detail here.

XP per Level is covered first. Each class uses the same XP value much like you see in 21st century D&D games (3rd Edition and beyond). This has a number of advantages of course. Multi-classing becomes easier and it helps keep level progression fairly even. Also it helps the intended audience, new gamers, become acclimated faster. (Editorial aside: I have taught many players whose first experiences were 3e, Pathfinder or 5e and they adapt to differing XP level charts fine; often with an occasional reminder that the thief is higher level because of it. But still this is easier.)

Ability Scores are the standard six we are all familiar with. Like the Moldvay Basic set the scores run 3-18 with simple modifiers they all share. Note. These mods are slightly different than what you might find in B/X, Labyrinth Lord, or Swords & Wizardry, so make sure you put them on your character sheet and don't go by memory. A simple ability check system that is compatible with, well, really all sorts of versions of D&D/Clones is presented.

Note in this version of the Chromatic Dragons game there are no "Saving Throws" but rather specialized ability checks. For example to "save" against some mind affecting magic you need to make a Wisdom check. This actually works rather well in my mind.

Ancestry and Heritage is the system used to replace the antiquated notions of "Race." Essentially this is a "Nature and Nurture" idea where Ancestry is your genetic or biologic make up and Heritage is how and under what conditions you were raised. For ancestry you can choose Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human. Each has details common to members of the same Ancestry. Dwarves are short, live to 300 years or so, and also something called "solid build" which gives them the ability to reduce damage by blunt object by 1 point. Humans get to add 1 point to any ability score, elves don't need to sleep and so on. Heritages are how you you were raised. So this helps give players a bit of character creation control to that backstory in their minds. You choose two heritages and the list can easily expanded. For example you can be born a halfling and have all the benefits of the halfling ancestry, but maybe you lived in a a Dwarf community, so you have the heritages of "Crafting" and "Subterranean."

This is a great concept and one I would wholesale adopt for all my games in the future. It just works too well for me. But I do have a couple of nitpicks with how it is done here. First under Ancestry everyone gets a language of their ancestry. This is something I feel better goes under Heritage. And there are some heritages that are better suited for ancestry. For example my Halfling who grew up in the Dwarven community knows how to speak Halfling due to their Ancestry and has Infravision due their "Subterranean" heritage. I can see "Dark Adapted" working, or even the ability to detect sloping corridors; but infravision feels like something you should be born with and languages are something that are learned later. Again, a minor nitpick, but one I will adjust when playing.

Character Classes cover the three basic classes; Fighter, Rogues, and Wizard. Other 3-class games call these Warriors, Rogue (or Expert) and Adept, but the names in the book are more suited to this genre and make translations to the "Advanced" game easier. Each class get an ability bonus, much like you see in newer games. So fighters get a +1 bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity. This can be easily rationalized as training. Each class also gets a set of abilities. Note, the Rogue abilities are presented using the same system as all other ability checks. They get bonuses for particular abilities; same name as the thief abilities of other games. Each level they gain 6 points to improve their 9 abilities as they choose (reminds me of 2nd Ed AD&D's Rogues). I do rather like this, yes it is different from the multiple subsystems that was either the curse or the charm of old-school games (depending on your point of view) but it also makes for a speedier game. Wizards for this game cover wizards, magic-users and clerics. Another small nitpick, since there is the Advanced game, I would have called this class a Magic-user, and then when the classes are separated out in the Advanced game called the Magic-users Wizards. But again, this is minor.

Alignment is a basic, or rather Basic, affair of just Law, Neutrality and Chaos.

Equipment covers everything you can buy. I remember running some friend through the Keep on the Borderlands years decades ago and they spent the entire adventure shopping in the Keep and trying to get deals.

How to Play covers all the Basic rules starting with movement. Movement scale is closer to that of newer, 21st century forms on D&D. We also get good coverage on time, vision, stealth and more. Discussions on what you can do on your turn are detailed. At this point we have read a little about about combat, but not all of it. That comes up now with initiative. Here we are using a hybrid of Basic and 2nd Edition inspired initiative sequence. We also get Morale another Basic/2nd Ed hybrid, but based on a max score of 10 as opposed to 12 (Basic) or 20 (2nd Ed).

Armor class is Ascending, not Descending. This is good since it gets rid of the need for attack tables. Characters have an attack bonus and they roll vs. AC.

Experience Points are pretty much the same as seen in earlier versions of D&D. A bit on creating adventures is given and a sample adventure is provided.

Wizard Spells follow. Since there is only one spell casting class, all the spells to 5th level are here.

We end with a blank character sheet, Appendices of tables, sample characters and a combat quick guide.

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented.

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rulebook
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Chromatic Dungeons Monsters & Treasure Basic
Publisher: Izegrim Creations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/02/2021 12:01:04

Orginally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-1-basic.html

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules Basic Rules, Monsters & Treasures. 58 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book. The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books. Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both. Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities. Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone." It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics. I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players. I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game. It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set. It is written for people that have never played before. This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.

Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure This book is primarily for Game Masters.

The bulk (2/3) of the book is about monsters. It starts off with what the descriptions of the monsters mean, how to read the stat blocks and so on. The stat block is pretty similar to what is found in *D&D circa 1981, so reading or even adapting to other games is easy. While XP values are listed Treasure type is not.

There is a section on special monsters, such as having the abilities of a character type or class. As well as assigning numbers for ability checks for monsters. Something that will be easier in the "Advanced" version of the game.

The monsters are grouped by category rather than all alphabetical. The Categories are Beasts, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, and Undead. Nearly all the usual suspects are here.

Some monsters are given the alignment of "n/a." This is typically true of creatures that are too unintelligent for alignment such as dinosaurs, or humanoids that can be any alignment. I do think for creatures like beasts, dinosaurs and elementals that "neutral" would have been fine and for humanoids "any" would have worked. Fiends are all Chaotic and so are most of the Dragons, Giants, and Undead.

The Treasure section covers not only magical treasures as expected, but gives us an alternate treasure type system based on the monster's HD. So not dissimilar to 3e or 5e.

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented.

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons Monsters & Treasure Basic
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She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/27/2021 09:48:06

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/10/review-she-is-ancient-genderbent-curse.html

A couple of months ago, beginning of September I think, I was made aware of a new title on DMsGuild called She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd by Beth the Bard. I checked it out and liked it. Poped on to Twitter to offer her congratulations and mentioned that she would hit Gold Best Seller status. Well, this past month she did it! I thought with Halloween coming up and so many people running the 5e Curse of Strahd this would be a great time to review it.

She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd

by Beth the Bard

157 pages, color art, PDF.

To start with you will need the 5th Edition version of Curse of Strahd to use this resource. Though I am going to also talk about how this can be used with the original AD&D 1st Edition adventure I6 Ravenloft.

She is the Ancient is more than just giving us a distaff Strahd. You don't need a guide for that. This guidebook shows how changing the gender of Strahd, but keeping her as a strong warrior figure, changes the nature of her relationship with, well everyone. The most interesting is her new rivalry and even hatred of Tatyana. These new relationships take up a good bit of this guide.

Beth the Bard reminds us that this IS a horror adventure and to assume that bad things can't happen to, well, everyone, is unreasonable. So yes there is still violence here and it's directed at everyone this time.

The changes are largely of these sorts:

Characters/NPCs. Several characters get changes, some minor, others are major. Strahd is now female, as is Van Richten. Others get minor changes. Any of these can be used optionally. Many of these are much more interesting than the ones we get in Curse of Strahd.

Relationships. Related to the characters are new relationships. These are very well detailed and even if you never change a single character according to this guide this is a very useful tool for Curse of Strahd.

Encounters. There are also changes to various encounters all over the Curse of Strahd adventure. This takes the shape of some encounter rewrites and others with tips. Additionally, there are encounter "flowcharts" that show how the various encounters are related to each other. There are also new handouts that you can print out to give to players.

That is overly simple, there are 157 pages here after all, but this is the gist of it.

The layout is clean and clear and the art is rather fantastic. It is on sale right now, but even at its regular price of $19.99 is a good deal, especially considering all we are getting here.

The overall feel is the same I get from watching a classic horror movie. "Dracula" is a horrid monster, someone that kills pretty much everyone in his path. "The Bride of Dracula" is just as evil, and likely kills as many people, but for some reason, her story seems more tragic. This new guide turns even this around.

Strahd is tragic, his love for Tatyana has driven him to become a monster. In this new Strahd, she is still a tragic figure, but it is nothing so prosaic as love that drives her, but hate and betrayal and yes jealousy. THIS Strahd is motivated by more violent emotions and desires. You anger her at your peril.

There is an accessible version of this adventure available. Link included in the PDF. There are tokens and NPC portraits you can use with this OR with the original Curse of Strahd if you choose.

I6 Ravenloft

Curse of Strahd is the newest iteration of the classic Ravenloft tale. This is "Dracula Untold" with Luke Evans. "I6 Ravenloft" is Hammer Horror with Christopher Lee. SO it stands then that "She is the Ancient" applied to I6 Ravenloft is Ingrid Pitt, in her "Countess Dracula" role.

I have not sat down with this new guide and Ravenloft and analyzed it line by line, but I have run Ravenloft several times since I purchased the original shortly after it was released. I have run it for every version of D&D since 1983, including D&D 5e before Curse of Strahd was released. My feeling here is that She is the Ancient can be used with the classic module just as easily.

Much of what is presented in the She is the Ancient is relationship-based. So conversion to or from 5e and 1st Ed is not an issue. There are some 5e stat blocks, but nothing that can't be easily replaced or swapped out.

Honestly the next time I run I6 I am going to give this a try.

What I like best about this is an attempt to do something different with what is now can be considered a classic sort of tale. It shows that like love, the topics of hate, revenge, and undying purpose are universal and can transcend simpler concepts of gender.

I had thought, originally, that this would give me some ideas for my own Darklord and Domain, Darlessa and Arevenir. Thankfully, She is the Ancient is not only NOT distaff Strahd, it is also NOT just a generic female vampire Darklord. I will, however, adopt the adventure flowchart idea and the relationships as they are modeled here. There are some great ideas to be honest.

Who should buy She is the Ancient? Anyone who has run and wants to re-run Curse of Strahd and wants to try something different. Personally, I feel the DMs that have run Curse of Strahd already will benefit the most from this.

I also think that first-time DMs of Curse of Strahd will enjoy this, but there is a LOT going on in both Curse of Strahd AND She is the Ancient.

Once you have this you can adopt/adapt as much or as little as you like. Or even just use the flowcharts and relationships to flesh out all the characters more.

I would say my ONLY complaint is that there is no POD option, but in truth, the layout and design are such that any page or collection of pages can be printed out and slotted into your Curse of Strahd book. Though a POD would be nice.

She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd is not going to be for everyone and that is OK. BUT, for the people that are inclined to use it is a great resource and guide. It is well written with great art and layout. A lot of work went into this and like the original Ravenloft, it provides yet more options for replayability.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
She is the Ancient: A Genderbent Curse of Strahd
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SURVIVE THIS!! We Die Young RPG Core Rules
Publisher: Bloat Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/05/2021 12:20:39

Originally Posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/10/review-survive-this-we-die-young-rpg.html

"Son, she said, have I got a little story for you

What you thought was your daddy was nothin' but a...

While you were sittin' home alone at age thirteen

Your real daddy was dyin', sorry you didn't see him,

but I'm glad we talked...

Oh I, oh, I'm still alive

Hey, I, I, oh, I'm still alive

Hey I, oh, I'm still alive."

Pearl Jam, "Alive" (1991)

It's October. There's a chill in the air and there is a feeling in the air. Something that makes me reflective, chilly, and maybe a little melancholy. Sounds like the 90s to me. There is also a game that captures this feeling perfectly. Bloat Games' newest offering in the SURVIVE THIS!! series; We Die Young RPG.

I have been waiting to share this with you all and today is that day!

We Die Young RPG Core Rules

"Tell me do you think it would be alright If I could just crash here tonight?"

We Die Young RPG Core Rules is 372 pages with color covers and black and white interior art. The book is digest-sized, so the same size as Bloat Games other games. The game was Eric Bloat & Josh Palmer with art by Phil Stone and additional art by RUNEHAMMER & Diogo Nogueira.

For this review, I am considering the just-released PDF on DriveThruRPG that I got as a Kickstarter backer. The print book is due out soon.

Comparisons between this game and their first game, Dark Places & Demogorgons are natural and I think needed. I spent a lot of time with DP&D so I am looking forward to seeing how I can use this game with that as well. But first, let's get into the game proper.

The book begins with two dedications from the authors. I want to repeat them here since they set the tone not just for the game but also for my review.

Growing up in the 1980s was fun. Being in my late teens and 20s in the 1990s however, was AMAZING. January 1990 I was a university undergrad, living in the dorms with a girlfriend that driving me crazy (not in a good way), but a best friend I hung out with all the time. December 1999 I was married to that best friend, I had a brand new baby son, living in my new house, and was working on my first Ph.D. That's no small amount of change. But I never forgot that kid in 1990 with the flannel, goatee, Doc Martins, and long hair. This is the game for that kid.
BTW "Layne" is Layne Staley, the former lead singer of Alice in Chains who died of a heroin overdose in 2002. If you can't remember EXACTLY where you were when you heard Layne, Kurt, Shannon, or Chris was dead, then this game is, to turn a quote "not for you."

Introduction

"With the lights out, it's less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us."

Here we are introduced to the newest SURVIVE THIS!! game. The authors are upfront about their inspirations here; grunge music from the 90s and the games that were popular at the time. Having already gone through the book a few times it is a thread that weaved in overt and subtle ways, but it never feels overused, hackneyed, or clichéd. We are given some in-game background for why the Pacific Northwest is so full of supernatural strangeness and it is a fun explanation. But to quote the late, great Bard of Seatle I prefer it "always been and always be until the end." But it works well.

The basics of RPGs are covered and what you need to play. Next we get into character creation.

Character Creation

"I'll be whatever you want. The bong in this Reggae song."

Character creation follows the same process as other SURVIVE THIS!! games and by extension most Old-School games. We are told from the word go that we can add material we want from the other SURVIVE THIS!! games.

Attributes are covered which include the standard six, plus the "Survive" attribute common to all SURVIVE THIS!! games. My first thought? My Dark Places and Demogons characters have grown up and moved to Seatle.

Like the other games in this family, Hit Points start with a 2d6 and increase by 1d6 per level regardless of class or race. Combat can be quite deadly in these games for people used to the hardiness of even Old-School D&D characters.

Saving Throws are different from D&D but the same as DP&D with the edition of the Magic save. This does make porting over characters and ideas from the other games pretty easy.

Alignment covers Righteous, Law, Neutral, Anarchist, and Evil.

Races

"All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, You don't like my point of view and I'm insane."

Here we get into the really new material. We have a bunch of new races for this setting. These include shapeshifting Doppelgangers, undead Ghouls, garden variety Humans, the immortal Imperishables, the ancient undead Jari-Ka, the various Realm-Twisted Fey (my new favorite, and I am sure I dated a Twitter Fey back then), Vampires (sparkles are optional), and Were-beasts of all stripes. If you played ANY RPG in the 1990s you know what you are getting here, but still, they manage to make it feel both new and old at the same time. New, because there is new potential here and old because they feel comfortably familiar; like that old flannel in the back of your closet or those beat-up old Doc Martens.

The races are well covered and you could easily drop them into any other SURVIVE THIS!! game or even any other Old-School game. They are really quite fun and I could not help but think of what characters I wanted to make with each one. This covers about 40 pages.

This is followed by a list of occupations with their bonuses.

Classes

"This place is always such a mess. Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn."

We Die Young is a class/level system. There 16 classes for this game. Some look like repeats from DP&D but are not really. They are updated to this setting and older characters. We are told that classes from the other SURVIVE THIS!! games are welcome here.

Our classes include the Mystic (tattoos mages), Naturalists (potheads, I mean druids), Papal Pursuant (soldiers of God), Psions (Carrie), Revenant (Eric Draven the Crow), Riot Grrl (what it says on the tin), Rock Star, Serial Killer, Shaman (oh here are the potheads), Sickmen (homeless, as seen by Sound Garden), Street Bard, Street Fighters, Thralls (Vampire servants), Tremor Christs (psionically powered religious prophets), Warlock (steal power for otherworlds), and what I can only assume is an attempt to get a good review from me (just kidding!) the Witch.

The witch here is slightly different than the ones we find in DP&D. So there can be no end to the witchy goodness you can have by combining games.

That covers a healthy 50 pages.

Skills

"And so I wake in the morning and I step outside, And I take a deep breath and I get real high. And I scream from the top of my lungs. 'What's going on?'"

The skill system for We Die Young is the same as DP&D. Though without checking it feels a bit expanded. You get points to put into skills and there are DCs to check. Very 3e. Or more like 3e IF it had been written in 1995. So, yeah, another solid point for this game.

Magic (& Psionics)

"Show me the power child, I'd like to say. That I'm down on my knees today."

Here is one of my favorite things in a game. There is a mythos added to the system here that is rather fun (see Spellcasters & Salt) as well as rules for Rune-Tattoos. Yeah, this is the 90s alright!

Now I have to say this. If adding a witch class is trying to get me to do a good review, then these spell names are outright flirting with me. Spells called "All Apologies", "Heaven Beside You", "Black Days", "Wargasm", "Super Unknown", and "Far Behind"? Yeah. That is hitting me where I live. And that is only the very tip of the iceberg.

Magic, Spells and Psionics cover a little over 60 pages and I feel they could have kept going.

Equipment

"What did you expect to find? Was there something you left behind?"

No old-school flavored game is complete without a list of equipment. This includes common items, weapons, and even magical items. Don't fret, it's not like there is a Magic Shop there. A "Health Locker" costs $50k and that is if you can find one.

The list of drugs is really interesting and fun. Look. It was the 90s. Everybody was taking drugs.

New to this setting are the Zapatral Stones. These are the remains of a meteorite that fell to Earth and hit the Pacific Northwest and Mount Rainer in particular. They have strange power and effects depending on the size of the stone and the color.

Playing the Game

"Whatsoever I've feared has come to life. Whatsoever I've fought off became my life."

Here we get our rules for playing the We Die Young game. We get an overview of game terms, which is nice really. New rules for Curses, Exorcisms, and Madness are covered. It looks like to me they could be backported to DP&D rather easily.

There is a fair number of combat rules. Likely this has come about from the authors' experiences with their other game Vigilante City.

We also get rules for XP & Leveling Up and Critical tables.

The World of We Die Young

"I'm the Man in the Box. Buried in my shit."

This is great stuff. This is the built-in campaign setting for We Die Young set place in a mythical and magical Pacific Northwest. the TL;DR? Grunge woke supernatural creatures. Ok, I can do that. I mean it is not all that different than ShadowRun right?

The setting of the PNW/Seatle on the 90s is covered well. I had many college friends that made the trek out to Seatle after our graduations (91 to 93 mostly), so I have some idea of what was happening on the ground level. Twenty-somethings like me seemed drawn to the place by some mystic siren song. A siren song with a Boss DS-2 distortion pedal.

Various associations/groups are covered, like Jari-Ka circles, Ghoul Legacies, Vampire Lineages, were-kin groups. Like I said, if you played RPGs in the 90s you know the drill. But again they are still both "new" and "old" at the same time. Kudos to the authors for giving me something new AND invoking nostalgia at the same time.

We also get some great locations of note and some adventure seeds which include some creatures.

Bestiary

"She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak. I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks."

This covers all the creatures you can run into. The stat blocks are similar enough to Basic-era D&D to be roughly compatible. They are 100% compatible with other SURVIVE THIS!! games, so the excellent DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual will work well with this. In fact, I highly recommend it for this.

There is a good variety of creatures. Angels, Demons, BIGFOOT! and more.

We get about 47 pages or so of monsters with stat blocks and an additional 10 pages of templates to add to monsters such as "Vampire" and "Radioactive."

Radioactive Bigfoot. I don't need a plot. I have that!

We get Adventure Hooks next. Roll a d100 and go!

The Appendix includes some Grung songs to get you into the mood. Some Seattle Grunge bands, some not-Seatle Grunge Bands, and some late 80's and 90's Alternative bands.

There is a list of movies about the era. A list of books. And finally the index and OGL.

Thoughts

"I don't mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows. I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes."

Wow. What a really damn fun game!

If Dark Places & Demogorgons gave a "Stranger Things" 80s, this gives me a strange supernatural 90s.

It is exactly what I would have expected from the fine folks at Bloat Games.

My ONLY question about this setting is "Where are the UFOs and Aliens?" I mean NOTHING was bigger in the 90s than "The X-Files." I get that it is hard to cleave 90s Aliens to 90s supernatural (ask anyone that has tried to play WitchCraft AND Conspiracy X), but maybe a supplement is due out later? I would suggest grabbing DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The UFO Investigator's Handbook to add some X-Files flavored goodness to We Die Young.

Back in the early 2000s I had a game I was running, Vacation in Vancouver. It took place in the 90s and in Vancouver (naturally). These rules make me want to revive that game and see where I could take it now.

The bottom line for me is that SURVIVE THIS!! We Die Young RPG is a great game. The pdf is fantastic and I can't wait for my Kickstarter books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SURVIVE THIS!! We Die Young RPG Core Rules
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HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:16:56

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/09/review-hr1-vikings-campaign-sourcebook.html

HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

For today's review, I am only going to consider the PDF version of this book from DriveThruRPG. I lost or sold back my original in one of my moves or collection downsize. I will mention details from the physical book as I remember it, but my focus is on the PDF for the details. In most cases the material is 100% the same, the difference coming from the fold-out map, which is separate pages in the pdf.

HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by David "Zeb" Cook. Illustrations by Ned Dameron and cartography by David C. Sutherland III. 96 pages, black & white with full-color maps.

The first book of the Historical Reference series covers the Viking raiders of Scandinavia. It is not a separate game world per se, since it deals with Pagan Europe after the fall of Rome, but it is a fantastical Europe where dragons fill the seas, troll-blooded humans walk among us, and somewhere out there in the wilderness, a one-eyed man wanders the land.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter covers the very basics, starting off with what people usually get wrong about the Vikings. These guys are not Hägar the Horrible or even the interpretations of Wagner. They do point out that "Vikings" are also not really a people, but a lifestyle that some people engaged in.

This section also covers how to use this book, specifically how to use this book about Vikings and the history of their raids with the AD&D 2nd Rules. We get into more specific details in the next chapters.

Chapter 2: A Mini-Course of Viking History

Starting with the raid at Lindisfarne in 793 CE the book covers a very basic history of the Northmen's lands, the lands they raided, and their culture and history. The focus here though is through the lens of an AD&D game, not a historical introduction. The book is clear on this.

Details are given, with maybe extra focus on England and France (though they are not called that yet) but that is fine. There is a very nice timeline running across the top of the pages of this chapter that is rather handy. The time period, roughly 800 to 1100 CE agrees with most of the scholarship on "Viking History" so that works fine for here as well.

There is a nice list of settlements and cities the Vikings targeted. Not a full list, but it gives you an idea of how much of Europe, Northern Africa, and even parts of Asia the Vikings would roam.

There is a page or so of suggested readings. Likely the best at the time. The chapter does set you nicely to explore these ideas further.

Chapter 3: Of Characters and Combat

Here we get into game writing proper. We start with what races you will find in a Viking-themed campaign. Obviously, we are talking mostly humans here. Humans can gain a "Gift" something that makes them special such as "Rune Lore" or "Bad Luck" or even a Seer. There is a new "race" the Troll-born. These are stronger than average humans due to troll-blood in their veins. They get a +1 to Strength, Constitution and Intelligence but a -1 to Wisdom and a -2 to Charisma. They have Infravision and are limited to 15th level in their classes. They are not born with Gifts.

Next, we cover the changes to the Character Classes from the PHB. Fighters on the whole tend to be unchanged as are Rangers and Thieves. Classes not allowed are Clerics, Paladins, Druids, and Wizards, though specialty mages are allowed if they are Conjurers, Diviners, Enchanters, Illusionists, Necromancers. While this could be a negative for some I like the idea of limiting classes for specific campaigns. Two new sub-classes of the Warrior are added, the Berserker and the Runecaster. Both do pretty much what you might suspect they do. The berserker is actually rather cool and while the obvious roots here are the barbarian and berserker monster from AD&D 1, there is enough here to make it work and be interesting too. Runecasters know runes as detailed in the next chapter.

The "forbidden" classes can be played, if they are outsiders.

Lip service is given to the detail that the Vikings were predominantly men. Though new archaeological finds are casting some doubt that they were exclusively so. This book does give some examples of how warrior women were known. They emphasize that player characters are always exceptional.

There is a section on names (including a list of names), homelands, and social class.

In the purist AD&D 2nd ed section, we get some new Proficiencies.

Chapter 4: Rune Magic

This covers Rune Magic. An important feature of Viking Lore. What the runes are and how to use them in AD&D 2nd Ed terms are given. A lot of these are minor magics, say of the 0-level or 1st-level spell use. I personally don't recall them being over abused in games, but they are a really nice feature to be honest.

Chapter 5: ...And Monsters

Monsters are discussed here, starting with which existing monsters can be used from the AD&D 2nd Monstrous Compendium. Following this some altered monsters are given. For example, there is the Gengånger which is a zombie with some more details.

Dwarves and Elves are given special consideration, as are trolls and giants.

There is not however any "new" monsters in the AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium format. We will get those in the Celts book, but that is next time.

The section is split with a "centerfold" map of Europe.

Chapter 6: Equipment and Treasure

Vikings were Vikings because of the treasure they sought. They also had the best ships in Europe at this time. So let's spend some time with these.

We start with a section on money. For the game's simplicity, these are reduced to a couple of systems. Coins are usually categorized by make-up and weight. There is some good material here really and something that most games should look into.

Treasure covers the typical treasures found. Also, treasure was a central piece of Viking lore; it was how chieftains paid their men, it was what they stole from others, and it was also how they were paid off NOT to steal. Some space is given to Magic Items as well. This is an AD&D game after all. Some "typical" magical treasure is discussed and some that are not found at all. A few new items are also detailed.

Chapter 7: The Viking Culture

This chapter gives us are biggest differences from a typical AD&D game. For illustrative purposes, we follow a young Viking, Ivar Olafsson, in a year of his life. Now I rather liked this because it gave me a character situated in his life and culture. While it is not the most "gamble" material it is good background material.

There is a section on Social Ranking and a little more on the role of Viking women. I think after 6 seasons of watching Katheryn Winnick kick-ass as Lagertha in Vikings, this section will be read and cheerfully ignored. That is great, but this bit does talk about, and support, the image that Viking women had it better than their counterparts in the rest of Europe.

We also get into the sundries, quite literally; Food, drink, homes, farms, and trade. There is a section on religion with lots of nods towards the AD&D 2nd Ed Legends and Lore.

Chapter 8: A Brief Gazetteer

AD&D 2nd Ed is celebrated not really for its advances in game design or rules, but rather the campaign worlds. This book, and this section, in particular, is a thumbnail of why these celebrations are merited. Or, as I call it, just give me a map! This section is more than a map and maybe not as much as the famed Mystara Gazetteers, but the relationship is not difficult to pick out.

This covers, rather briefly (as it says in the title), the lands the Vikings would roam to. And there are a lot of those! In addition to the lands of Europe, Africa, Asia, and yes even North America, we get the fantastic worlds of the Vikings. If I had done this book this would have been Chapter 2 or 3 at the very least. This chapter is all too brief in my mind.

We get a longship design at the end and in the PDF what was the fold-out map.

--

So in truth a really fun resource. The AD&D game material is there, but this book could be used with pretty much any version of D&D or even many other games. 3rd Edition/Pathfinder players might lament the lack of Prestige Classes, but the Rune MAgic section can be easily converted to a Feat system. 5th Edition Players would need to work the Berserkers into a Barbarian sub-class/sub-type, but that would be easy enough.

It is not a perfect resource, but it is really close. I am really regretting selling off my physical copy now.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (2e)
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