Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: James Mishler Games

+James Mishler is having a big sale on all his Olden Lands products and they are worth checking out.
James runs a great blog over at http://jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com/ and Google+ Group where he posts tons of great old-school material for the price of a click.
I am partial to his works since the Mystoerth map I use is based on his work.  One day I really, really need to chat with him about this map and how he runs/ran his combined Mystara/Greyhawk world and see if was similar to how we did it back in 86.
Anyway check out his products.

I guess the first thing that needs to be said is that all these products are designed to be used with any Old-School game.  They are overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and some dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
Most of these books lack art, but I don't think that is an issue here. They do fine with out it.

Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack
8 maps. Pay What You Want
The maps are all hires PNG files.
Features the hex area around Castle Adlerstein which is to be detailed in the future. Again at present it is avery sandboxy and can be used with anything.  8 maps (7 maps and a grid) and PWYW make this a great deal.  It will be a better deal when the rest of it comes out too.

Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent
7 maps and a guidebook. Pay What You Want.
The maps are all hires PNG files.
The guidebook lists various monsters and resources of the areas. No descriptions of the lands or anything else.  That is all coming in the in the Gazetteer of the Olden Lands.  But it works as a huge sandbox and I was already mentally placing it in my own world. Easily worth the price of a look and throwing a few bucks into James' hat.  Easily more things to do here than I can put down on paper (pixels?) now.  IT really recalls that feel that getting the original Expert Set box and seeing the maps.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series.  This one features Khraliche KarinkhamĂŒr the Chaos Queen of Ants.  Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures.  Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.
What I like most about this is that it can be easily added to any game world.  The feel is overwhelming old-school and sandbox, but that is great.

Hercynian Grimoire #1
46 pages (cover, OGL, 44 pages).
The first of hopefully more books in this series as well.  This is also the first of the Olden Lands and the Chronicles of Mhoriedh line.   The book is divided into a recognizable "Men & Magic", "Monsters & Treasure", "Underworld & Wilderness" and a newer, but still recognizable "Gods & Demi-gods".  So needless to say I am hooked so far.
First up a great few of pages on Gnolls and their human-half breed kin the Gnoles.  I never gave gnolls a second thought but this is some good stuff.
Another feature that you see the d66 table. Roll two d6s like percentile dice and get 36 outcomes.  Like Traveler used to do.
Next up is a section on spells. What I love about this and can get 100% behind is that Magic-user/Wizard spells are also labeled as "Intelligence", Cleric spells as "Wisdom" and Witchcraft spells as "Charisma". It is like it is custom made for my Witch class!
There is a Gnoll encounter table, a random faerie table.
The next section is a collection of new magic items.
About half-way we get to a monster manual like section.  Plenty of new hyena types and more.  All monsters are dual stated.
Following some more tables we talk about some of the Olden Lands.  Up first, the Realm of Alspadia and it's major settlements.
This is a pretty packed book at 46 pages. Lots of things to use to be honest and all can be added to your current game with no troubles.

Ogres of the Olden Lands
Ogres are the boogeymen of the Olden Lands. Or at least that is how they are depicted here.  I love what James is trying to do with the ogres here. Give them something more of the supernatural. It works to be honest and for how little this book costs you have no excuse not to be using this to spice up the ogres in your own game. Ok though, I do plan on using this information for goblins instead!  The random ogre feature tables for both Ogre and Ogre Magi is just great.
Though the STAR of this book is the Half-Ogre as a player character.  Gamers of A Certain Age (like James and myself) grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and the half-ogre is the result of that.  Either from the pages of Dragon magazine or the pages of Piers Anothony, the half-ogre was something that was sure to show up in someone's game in the early 80s.  This half-ogre does that memory justice.
As a bonus we get the lands of the ogre and full color maps!

Vampires of the Olden Lands
The Olden Lands is James' in house campaign the Chronicles of Mhoriedh. All the books in this series are dual stated with Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades stats. This appeals to me on a number of levels. I like that he went through the effort to do this and the nice effect is that between these two sets of stats you can play this under any old school version of D&D you like. There is also plenty in this book that work with any other game as well.
We start out with some common protections against vampires. We follow with 8 very different sorts of vampires including living, dead and spirit. All dual stated. There is a new race to play, The Dhamphir. I have seen a lot of "Dhampirs" over the years, but this one is one of the best so far just in terms of simplicity.
All in all a really nice take and these vampires are not like the Dracula-Lestat-Edward clones that can populate so many other games.

All in all these are great additions to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.
I hope to see a LOT more of this world to be honest.  I would also love to see how people are using it in their own games.  For me, I am planning to set Dolmvay in the Olden Lands somewhere.

Plays Well With Others
I could not help but notice that there are lot of references to a Witch class in these books.  This class is left undefined for the most part (outside of it being a Charisma based spell caster) and is really meant to be any kind of witch.  I can't help but notice how perfect this fits with my own Witch class.  So if you liked my class and have the book, then grab these too, but especially grab Hercynian Grimoire since it has witch spells in it that would be perfect.

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