Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Reviews: OSR Mars

I have always been fascinated with Mars.  Not just the Mars I used to look at through my telescope as a kid, but also the worlds of Burroughs, Wells, Smith, Heinlein, and more.
I have often, very often, wanted to run an OD&D game on Mars, or rather a mix of Barsoom, Wells, and the Mars of DC Comics.

So one of my "Holy Grail" items has been Gygax & Blume's Warriors of Mars game. Though every copy I have ever seen is so far out of my price range.  Usually over $1,000 and one I have seen for $4,000!

I like Mars, but not that much for something I am also going to house rule a bit on. 

Thankfully, we have many talented people in the Old-School games scene that can help me with my Mars obsession.

Warriors of Mars - Barsoom by "Doc"
Up first is a fan reproduction of the Warriors of Mars book.
This is from the OD&D Forums by a user named "Doc".  The PDF was reformated by Jason Vey and done up to look like an OD&D book with permission from Doc.   The book also called Warriors of Mars uses the art from the original and naturally feels like an OD&D book with better typesetting.  At 28 pages it covers the basics and the focus is more on D&D than the original 56 pages TSR Warriors of Mars which also used a lot of Chainmail rules.  I am happy this one is out there since it gives me a basis of comparison for future books.  Plus it lets me know that I really don't need to spend 1000 bucks.




Now getting to ones you can buy.

Warriors of the Red Planet
by Al Krombach with art by Thomas Denmark and published by Denmark's Night Owl Workshop.
The PDF is digest-sized, single column, with black & white art from Denmark (so you know it looks great). At 128 pages it is a good-sized volume.  And all for $8.00.  They could have made it $10 and still it would have been a great price.  Overtly the book is for Swords & Wizardry.
This game is more inspired by Burroughs than actually being Barsoom.
There are five races to play, Ancients, Elevated, Exotic, Humans and Unliving. And four classes, Fighting Men, Scoundrels, Mentalists, and Scientists.   Each class goes to 10th level.
Mentalists have powers, Scientists have gadgets and they both work roughly like spells.
There are rules for character creation, equipment (including swords and rayguns), and several examples of play. 
While I said it is overtly for S&W, there is Ascending and Descending AC and "Basic-like" saving throws.
There are some great monsters added to this as well.  Any of which can be ported over to any OSR games if you wish.  Many are recognizable from Burroughs, but there are plenty more as well.
Some of the races get more detail in the appendix.  While an Exotic can nearly be anything (with random tables to boot!) some of the more common types are listed here. As per Burroughs we have Red, Green, Black, White and Yellow Martians.  Earthlings on Mars are also discussed.
Appendix A covers all sorts of random terrain, building, missions, and the unexplained along with weird science artifacts.
Appendix B adds the eldritch to Mars with the Sorcerers of the Black Gate.
Appendix C adds an optional skill system.
Appendix D covers ship to ship combat.
And finally, Appendix N (yup) covers suggested reading.
Again, this is a great book and 100% compatible with other "old-school" books from Night Owl Workshop. And easily worth twice the cover price in my mind.

BX Mars
This is a newer book from Michael Gibbons who also does the illustrations.  Here we get a full (8.5" x 11") PDF at 104 pages with Black & White art.  The author makes a note that the B&W art fits the mood of the game and I can't say I disagree.
This book also is more inspired by Burroughs, but the DNA is a little more obvious here.  Also, the book is designed to be used with B/X style games, this also goes to level 10 (not level 14 as some B/X games).  That's also great by me. 
The classes and these are race-classes, are Princess, Warrior, Thark! (no idea why the ! is there), Menton and Terran.  The classes are pretty much what you think they are. A couple of points. Princess is only open to Red Martian women; there is no Prince class (and sadly no Purple Martians).  The Menton is a psionic using class with powers detailed in the book.
There is also something called "Mastery" which works a little like Feats from 3/4/5e but has a solid B/X/Old-school feel to them. They work quite well here.
There is a Campaign/World-building history here.  It is some good background and fun to add to any game whether you are playing as straight-up Barsoom or something else.
This book has a completely different feel than the other Mars books out there.  While all the books I have looked at list mostly the same sources as inspiration, this one comes closer to Heavy Metal than most.  Also if I ever wanted to play a Herculoids game this would be the first book I'd grab.
The art has a really cool style that I don't often see in modern RPG books, but it fits this one perfectly.

If I wanted to describe the differences between WotRP and BXM, I would say WotRP was later Led Zeppelin and BXM is Blue Oyster Cult.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reviews: DMs Guild Picks

Been spending some time on the DMSGuild to see what sort of products are there.  In general, I have been a bit underwhelmed.   Here are a few that caught my attention.

Class: Elven Cavalier
I have said before that someone out there picked up Dragon #114 and instead of fixating on the witch class like I did, they fixated on the Elven Cavalier.   Well, that person might be Christopher J. Ferguson.  I will look into some of his other works later, but right now let's focus this.

The PDF is 5 pages and $1.00.  The first thing I notice is that the art is largely taken from The Hobbit movies.  I am not sure what the rules are at DMSGuild, but I am still pretty sure this is a copyright violation.
The background makes it difficult to read in some places and some of the font choices also don't help.  The class is a fairly good replication of the 1st Ed AD&D class from Dragon #114.

From a D&D 5 perspective, I am not sure where this class is supposed to live. It does not seem to be part of the core classes where variants are built like sub-classes.  This could have been a sub-class of the Paladin or Fighter for example.
It's too bad really, I was hoping for more.

Witch Class, D&D 5e (inspired by Dragon #114 witch)
Another one from Christopher J. Ferguson.
This is a 9-page $1.00 PDF with color interiors.
I love the art for this one, but the background image makes it harder to read and difficult to print. He starts with a bit of history of the witch in D&D, but I am not sure if the author knows how far back this class actually goes. That's fine the focus here is on the Dragon #114 witch.

This witch uses both Intelligence and Charisma for spellcasting and is a divine spellcaster. There is a distinction between White and Black magic witches. I like the "A Blessing and a Curse" idea here. It's a nice touch. The witches also get a lot of powers in addition to their spells. Some, like the candle magic powers, really do invoke the memories of the old Dragon Magazine witch. There are even 5 new spells. I had hoped that since this was inspired by the Dragon witch that there would be High Secret Order spells too, but the author did not include those. There are some good ideas here.

I have been reading a lot of scholarly works on myths and legends and I have wanted to see more from a Shaman class.  Here are two.

The Shaman - A New Take
From A Point of Inspiration, this PDF is full color and has 9 pages. It is Pay What You Want with a suggested price of 50 cents; it is worth more than that.  This is presented as a new full caster class with two archetypes, the Witch-Doctor and warden.
The class is good, but could use a little more detail, even a little history would be fun.  Even at twice the price it is still good.  There are new powers, but no new spells.
This class has spellcasting foci, like a fetish or idol, which gives it a nice feel. Wisdom is the spellcasting ability. This class also has some spirit based powers that are interesting. The relationship here is similar to the cleric and druid is similar to the Sorcerer-Wizard-Warlock one. I think I would have liked to have seen this class use something more like the Warlock style spellcasting to be honest, but what is here works fine. IT's a good class, but I am left want more.
The PDF is nicely designed and it looks like a fun class to try out.

Shaman Class (5e)
Another Shaman class, this time from Michael Wolf.  This is also PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.00.  It is worth a lot more than that.  The book is 17 pages.
This is a pretty full class with new archetypes, a new type of magic including using spirits, and a few new spells.  The book is pretty well researched and because of that this Shaman is a much fuller class.
This one does fill that "Warlock" niche for divine spell-casters.
If you want to try out a Shaman class then this is not just a great choice, it is one of the better products I have grabbed at DMSGuild recently.






Monday, November 4, 2019

Monstrous Monday Review: D&D Creature Catalogs

Something a little different today as I wind down from that crazy October.
One of the things I wanted to do with my "Back to Basic" year was also to get some more reviews in for some the basic era products I enjoyed the most and for the products that also contributed to my love of the game.  These would both be products by TSR and third party products of the time and of more recent years.

Since today is my day to post about monsters I wanted to hit two products that really enjoyed back in the day.

Now I have gone on and on (and on and on) about how pivotable the AD&D 1st Ed Monster Manual was to my life in RPGs.  So much so that I would later pick up any monster book that came out.   I loved AD&D and played it all throughout my High School days and beyond.   But it was Basic D&D, in particular, the B/X flavor of D&D that was my favorite.  I wanted a Monster Manual for that game.  Eventually, TSR granted my wish.

AC9 The Creature Catalog (1986)
The Creature Catalog (AC9), came out in 1986 and was produced in conjunction with TSR UK and it would be one of the last books to do so.  It shared a name with a series in Dragon Magazine (Issues #89 and #94), which led to some confusion on my part, but that was soon displaced.  A bit of a background story.  My then AD&D DM had grabbed this and let me borrow it. He knew I was a fan of D&D (Basic) and a fan of undead monsters, of which this had a lot of.  I immediately started pouring over the book and loved all the new creatures in it and new versions of some that I considered "classic" by then.   For example, the Umber Hulk (MM1) and the Hook Horror (FF) now shared an entry under "Hook Beast" and the Umber Hulk was now called a "Hulker".  Given the time I just decided it was obviously the same beast and just called that in my version of Mystara and my DM kept Umber Hulk for his version of Greyhawk.  Simple.
Grabbing the PDF a while back I was hit by all these memories of flipping through the book and that sense of wonder came back.  Monsters that I had used in games and have since forgotten about came rushing back to me.
The PDF is a scan of the original book, so the quality is not 100%, more like 80% really.  BUT that is not a reason not to get it. The text is still clear and the pictures, while not high-res are still legible.  If nothing else the "imperfections" of the scan match my imperfect memory of the book.  So point 1 for nostalgia purchase.  The book itself is 96 black & white pages with color covers.
There are about 150 monsters here (151 by my quick count). Some should be familiar to anyone that has been playing for a while, but there are also plenty of new ones that reflect the differences in design tone between D&D and AD&D.
This book is separated by (and bookmarked by in the pdf) sections.  The sections are Animals, Conjurations (magically created creatures), Humanoids, Lowlife, Monsters, and Undead.
There are a lot of fun monsters here, many have made it into later editions of D&D, in particular, the Mystara Monstrous Compendium.
The index is very nice since it also covers all the monsters in the various BEMCI books for a complete picture of the monsterography of the mid-80s D&D.
If you are playing old-school D&D or a retro-clone of the same then this is a great little treat really. The book also has guidelines on where to put monsters and how to make alterations to the monster listing for a different creature.  In fact a lot of what I have seen on some blogs and forums over the last couple years about how to "play monsters" has been better stated here. Yet more evidence that there is really nothing new out there. That and people don't read the classics anymore!

DMR2 Creature Catalog (1993)
The next Creature Catalog (DMR2) came out in 1993 for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. Most of the same monsters that appear in the Creature Catalog AC9 are here. In fact, a lot of the exact same art is used.  The net difference is this book has 158 monsters.
This book is the more customary 128 black & white pages with two, color covers.  The monsters in this version are all listed alphabetically.  This is also a much better scan and a print option is also available.
This book was designed for the Rules Cyclopedia and not BECMI the rules are 99% the same and thus both this and AC9 can be used interchangeably.  DRM2 Creature Catalog came out at the same time as the AD&D 2nd edition Monstrous Compendiums so the layout and style reflects that.  The color trim here is red instead of blue.
This PDF does bookmark every monster entry and since all monsters are listed together it is easier to find what you want here.  Missing though is some of the advice in the earlier AC9 version.
But like the AC9 version, this is a fantastic book to use with your classic games or retro-clones of them.
In both books you won't find demons or devils since they were not part of the D&D world of Mystara, but that is not a big deal.   For me, the loss is nothing compared the amount of undead both books have.  Some of my favorite undead monsters to use to this very day made their appearances in these books.  Elder Ghouls, Death Leaches, Dark Hoods, Grey Philosophers and Velyas still rank among my favorites.

If you are only able to get one then opt for the DMR2 version for the better scan quality.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Odysseys & Overlords

Odysseys & Overlords is a new Old-School setting and rules system from Travis Legge and Aegis Studios.  Travis has an impressive bibliography with over 400 publications on DriveThruRPG.  So when I saw these were out I jumped on them as soon as I saw they were published.  I also admit I was drawn in with the Dean Spencer art.

Odysseys & Overlords uses Basic Fantasy as it's ruleset and I think that is a good idea. Of all the clones out there BF is one of the more flexible and easily approachable to new gamers.  If you are using a Basic-era ruleset of your own then it will work with that.  For example, while reading up for this review I compared and contrasted these rules to rules in Labyrinth Lord and Blueholme.  I found no issues.

Odysseys & Overlords Player's Guide
PDF. 56 pages, color cover, b&w interior.
The Player's guide has what you should expect a Player's Guide to have.  Here you get a bit of background on the campaign world of the O&O game.  It's fine, as far as these things go, but I have no emotional investment in it.  It does help situate some of the game-design choices and that is nice.  Still, I see a campaign guide or gazetteer sometime in the future.  Since this is a Basic-era OSR game based on Basic Fantasy races and classes are separate. With this, we get some new races, called genus in this book (a more apt name really).   We get Abyss-kissed, which are like other games' Tieflings though more in-line with this game's mythos. Spellscorched, which cover the same niche as elves only here children of the gods.  Wild folk, humanoids with animal traits and blood. And garden variety humans.  No elves, dwarves or halflings here and that is great by me! (Note: they also do not appear in the Monsters section of the Game Master's book)
Classes include the favorites of Clerics, Fighters, Magic-users and Thieves and also adds another take on the Bard class.  Might need to give that one a try sometime.  Bards do not have spells but do have songs they can learn for different in-game effects.
Additionally, there is a section on equipment. I'll be honest, I don't pay much attention to equipment lists anymore. I have so many games with so much equipment that if I need to find something I am sure I have it OR I can just make it up on the spot.
Spells follow next.   Spells for both clerics and magic-users only go to 6th level.  Personally, I still like my magic-users to have more spellcasting power than clerics and would have liked to see magic-user spells go to at least 7th level.  All the expected suspects are here. 
We get some adventuring rules and finally some combat rules.
The layout and art is really good and has a solid old-school feel. The book just looks nice and fills you with all sorts of old-school nostalgia.  I do wish the book though offered some more new unique classes to go along with the new unique races.   A little more on the world background as it applies to the characters would also have been nice.
There is a character sheet at the end of the book. You can also get the character sheet here for free.

Odysseys & Overlords Game Master's Guide
PDF. 63 pages, color cover, b&w interior.
This book covers a bit of material not found in the Player's guide. 
Again we get some great Dean Spenser cover art and again we get the same overview of the campaign world.
We get into a section on various encounter areas, including my favorite, Urban Encounters.   Tips on dealing with players, hopeless characters, and weapon and armor restrictions.
There is also a good section on XP advancement and narrative advancement, which has come to be called "milestone" advancement in D&D 4 and 5.  It provides some nice balance. I am using both types in different games and it has the effect of taking the focus away from combat and more onto role-playing for Narrative/Milestone advancement. 
Magical research into new spells and new magic items are also discussed.
There is a monster section following the discussion on dungeons and wilderness exploring.  The problem I have with the monsters here is that you are directed to use Basic Fantasy there are not any new monsters.  Nearly all, save for two, can be found in what I would call the "common canon" of the OSR.  There was a real chance here to set this book apart from others with some new and unique monsters, or at least some rare ones.  It is too bad this chance was not taken.
Magic items follow next. A good variety here, but again I would have liked something unique to this world to stand out.
We end with the Kingdoms.  Ah! now here is the new and unique material I was hoping for.  There is a good amount here to work with without being overly detailed.   The descriptions are good, but a map, even a rough one, would have been great.  Tip: Can't afford a good cartographer?  Scribble one out and call it "an adventures map found in a dragon horde". 
Interestingly enough, there are maps in the books from Dyson Logos, but that causes an awkward mix of the OGL and Creative Commons Licences that I have been told to avoid doing.  Hope this works for them!
I think there is something here to the world put forth, I just would have liked to have seen more of it.

I have not picked up many of the adventures yet, but here is one.

Temple of the Harpies
PDF. 14 pages, color cover, b&w interior, two maps
This adventure is a pretty straightforward affair that can be run in a long afternoon. Designed for four to six characters of 2nd to 3rd level, the character must retrieve a missing child, defeat harpies, kobolds, and an ancient curse and not awaken an army of undead. Suitable for any OSR game or really any d20 based fantasy game with tweaks.  This one also includes some new monsters, which I always like.


I think there is a lot of potential with this line and would like to see more.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Monster Book Round Up, 1st Ed style

You can never have too many monster books in my mind.  Even I use one or two per book and my players are surprised or go "what in the hell is that!?" then it is money well spent.   Monsters have taught me so much over the years.  Monsters lead me to Greek Mythology. Monsters helped me learn how to write code to create databases and then later helped land a DBA job while I was still in school.   One day I'll update my old Access95 Monster Database, but that will have to be later.

Until then here are some of the monster books I am enjoying a lot right now.

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters
For the Blood & Treasure 2nd edition game, but can be used with any Old-school game.  The system is a mix of Swords & Wizardry and AD&D 1st Ed/OSRIC so reading the stats is really easy.
215 pages, over 600 monsters.  Color cover, black & white interiors.
This one has all the usual suspects from the various SRDs and that is fine for me really.  There are some new descriptions and there are new monsters.
There are things in this book that make it more worthwhile than just monster stat blocks.  There are a number of conditions and definitions ported over from 3.x OGC that are very welcome additions to the "OSR Ruleset".  There are guidelines for Monsters as a Character Race which are quite nice.
Another import from 3.x are Monster Templates.  Now you can a Celestial Gnome or a Draconic Goblin among other things.  Really expands your creature database.
There are even four mini-adventures included.
Not at all bad for just under $10.  Highly recommend!

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters II
The second book for the Blood & Treasure 2nd edition game.  This one has 197 pages, over 500 monsters. Color cover with black & white art.  No this is what we buy monster books for! New Monsters!  At 500 some odd monsters there are some here that can be recognized from the records of myth and fairy tales, (lots and lots of dragons!) but there a plenty of more that are completely new to me to edge it out over Monsters I.  There is similar material from the Monsters I book; conditions, attack descriptions and the like.  But the bulk is dedicated to new creatures for your game. This book also has a Chimerical Monster table for making your own chimeras. Tables on mutant dinosaurs and vermin.  Also a combined monster listing of both books.

If you have Blood & Treasure Monsters then you will want this one.  If you just like new monsters then get this one too.

Malevolent and Benign
Malevolent and Benign has long been a staple on my game table.   128 pages with 150 monsters, all in OSRIC format.   The monsters are all new (to me), with some converted from other OGC sources.  The art is quite good and the feel of the book is something like a Monster Manual 3 or a Fiend Folio 2 really. It sits on my shelf right next to my monsters books, or in theory, it does. It is actually out on my game table more often than not. The softcover is very nice to have and the PDF is fully bookmarked.
The book also has a small section on new magic items associated with these monsters.
For $10 it is a good deal.

Malevolent & Benign II
In many ways I actually like M&B2 more than M&B1.  This book is 110 pages with 150+ monsters.  Again we have a color cover (which is fantastic by the way) and black & white interior.  In fact all the art is a step up.
If M&B 1 was akin to a MM3 or FF2 then this one is the next in line, but with no loss of quality. The monsters are new and quite deadly or at least the ones that are not deadly are interesting.
I have not picked up the softcover yet, but the PDF is fantastic.
10 bucks for the pdf or 20 for the pdf + softcover book is a pretty good deal.  Especially for a bunch of new monsters.



Found Folio Volume One
A collection of creatures from various 3.x sources converted back over to "Advanced era" stats. What it lacks in art it makes up for in the number of monsters (typically two per page). Lots of 3.x faves here, ready for your OSR games!
130 monsters in 70 or so pages.



Honorable Mentions. Almost AD&D1 stats.

Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
If you ever only buy ONE product from BRW and the Adventures Dark & Deep line then make sure it is this one.
Let be honest up front. We have seen most if not all the monsters somewhere else before. Most are in the SRD or from other Open sources. The new ones are great, but they are ideas we have seen.
And none of that matters. This is still a great book. At 457 pages (pdf) it is a beast. Monsters are alphabetically listed by areas you would find them in. So Wilderness and Dungeon is by far the bulk of them, but there are also Waterborne (fitting in with the rules) and "Outsiders" or monsters from the other planes. But I am getting ahead of myself.
The book begins with two monster spellcasters, the Shaman and the Witch Doctor. Shades of similar classes from the BECMI RC to be sure. But they work here great and frankly I know someone will want to use these rules to play a Shaman one day. Heck, I once tried a Wemic Shaman in early 2e days myself. Maybe I'll see if I can do that here. The classes are not detailed and they don't need to be. The do what they need to do.
The Monster descriptions are a bit like those found in OSRIC though there are some interesting additions. Each Monster has a Morale, like that found in Basic and 2nd ed, though it is not a score but an adjustment. Attacks are listed in the stat block, though they are the attack types. This is most similar to "Special Attacks" in other rules. Also wholly new are "Weaknesses" which is an interesting idea and one I think other OSR publishers should adopt. Each monster then gets a couple of paragraphs of text. Many are illustrated thanks to the highly successful Kickstarter for this (more on that later). The illustrations are great too as you can see here and here.
All the monsters have General, Combat and Appearance sections in their write-ups.
Unlike 2e (and 4e) monsters are not confined to one-page entries. Some have paragraphs, others just a few lines. This is good since I think we would have something like 1000+ pages. I think I read there are 1100 monsters in this book. Maybe 900. Anyway, it's a lot. I spot checked a few monsters I thought might not be there, but sure enough, they were. Ok so the ones that are Closed via the OGL are not here, but I was not expecting those. There are some alternates and stand-ins if you really, really need them though.
The book sections are: Wilderness and Dungeon, aka Most of the Monsters Underwater and Waterborne, larger than expected, but not surprised given the material in the core books. Prehistoric Monsters, always nice to have; Dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals. Extra-Planar Monsters, your Outsiders.
Appendix A details creating your own monsters. Appendix B has something I didn't even realize was missing till I started reading the stats; a basic psionic system for psychic strikes. Appendix C covers random creatures from the Lower Planes. This is the first "Gygaxian" touch I have noticed in this book. Reminds me of a really old Dragon magazine article from years ago. Appendix D is the magic resistance table and Appendix E covers the abilities of Gods.
All of this in a PDF for just under $15.
I have mentioned before that Joe gets his work done and gets it done fast. Well, this is not only no exception but it is the new benchmark. Joe ended his Kickstarter and then got printed books out to people 6 months early. Let that sink in for a moment. In a hobby where we tolerate (although not quietly) Kickstarters with delays of 18 months or longer, Joe and BRW are out there, turning out product and getting it to people early. You should buy a copy of this book on that principle alone.
So should you get this book?
If you like monsters then yes. If you need monsters for your old-school game then yes. If you want to support Joe and the Adventures Dark & Deep system then yes. If you want to reward good Kickstarter behavior then absolutely yes.
Lots of good reasons to get in my book. It is also the best book in his line.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities
The first of two HUGE monster books for the Swords & Wizardry game.  This one is also my favorite of the two by just a tiny bit.
This has mostly new monsters but some of the monsters we have seen before either in the SRD or other books. That though does not detract from its value as this is a 560+ page book since in addition to that there are some new monsters. The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre 1980) covers. I love this cover. There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, description and a plot hook. While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art. Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new. Actually, the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art. Honestly, there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top-notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have. I am even going as far as to say it is a must have for any serious S&W GM.



Tome of Horrors Complete - Swords and Wizardry Edition
What can be said about this product? The original Tomes of Horrors were all great products that featured a number of "old school" monsters from previous editions of the game all under the OGL. It even had a brief "tutorial" on how to add these beasties to your own products. Now those very same monsters are back in one huge book "updated" to Swords & Wizardry stats. Nearly 700 monsters, all ready for your game. In addition to art and stat blocks for every monster there is also an adventure hook for each one. The monsters have been "scaled down" to fit the S&W rules better.
Color covers, black & white interior art.  688 pages (that's right!)

Converting these to AD&D1/OSRIC/Advanced Labyrinth Lord should not be an issue.

Eight monster books and somewhere over 3,300 monsters (lots of duplicates sure, but all unique presentations).

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Realms of the Crawling Chaos

One of my favorite Old School books has been Realms of the Crawling Chaos by Goblinoid Games.  It's a nice blend of both D&D Basic-era (via Labyrinth Lord) and the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.  We get a little bit of Call of Cthulhu and the Cthulhu Mythos from Deities & Demigods.

Available as a PDF and softcover for years it is now out in hardcover for backers of the Advanced Labyrinth Lord Kickstarter.


The book looks fantastic, as to be expected.









The hardcover book is 60 pages worth of material and deals with running a Lovecraftian-inspired game of horror fantasy.
A few new races are introduced for a Race-as-Class style game with notes on other classes to use in an advanced game; Sea-Blooded, Subhuman, White Ape and White Ape Hybrid.

Next, are some new magical formulae and some new spells all based on various Lovecraft sources. Enough to sprinkle into various dammable texts for the players to find AND then really get into trouble with.

We come to the monsters and all the old favorites are here. Comparing them to other sources of similar monster will give you plenty of differences in stats, which is a good thing really. Players who are familiar with other books should not have knowledge their characters do not.

A small section on Eldritch Artifacts, a staple of many of Lovecraft's mythos stories.

And finally a section on Psionics which differs from other books/games.

We get some appendices on Eldritch tomes and an artifact generator.  Appendix 3 covers the use of these psionic rules in Mutant Future. And Appendix 4 covers the stories and books used.

We end with the OGL section.

If I have one complaint there are no rules for sanity or madness. A fair staple of many Lovecraftian games.

The book is awfully fun and is full of great ideas.  If you are a fan of Labyrinth Lord and Lovecraftian tales then I would most certainly grab this.

For me, this is has been the "missing" part of both my BlackStar game and War of the Witch Queens.  I say "missing" but I have had the PDF forever.

This is actually a HUGE part of my BlackStar game.  This plus Starships & Spacemen So I am going to talk a little about in the frame of reference of that game soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Survive This! Dark Places & Demogorgons Companions

Today I spend even more quality time with Dark Places & Demogorgons.  There are a number of great supplements now out for PD&D and more on the horizon.  Right now I am going to focus on these four since they will focus on my new campaign idea I'll talk more about tomorrow.
In all cases, I am reviewing the physical copies and PDFs.



Dark Places & Demogorgons: Jeffersontown Setting Guide
140 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
This book covers the Jeffersontown setting introduced in the core rulebook.  I have to admit, I was not going to buy this book.  I was not really that interested in the J'town setting; I had my own setting, settings really, to try out and this one did not grab me.
That would have been a mistake. This book is really freaking awesome.
Reading through this book you begin to realize that all small towns are the same.  I read through this and was mentally replacing J'Town details with my own old hometown Jacksonville (J'Ville, no really that is what we called it).  There are a ton of great ideas here for any type of campaign.
So who should buy this?
Well if grew up in the 80s then you know this already. You lived it.  But this book is a wonderful trip down memory lane.  It's someone else's memory lane, but it looks like yours; it looks a lot like mine too.
If you didn't grow up in the 80s then this book is a must-have.  Really sets the tone and tenor of the game perfectly.
This makes this book a must buy, I am glad I picked it up.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Player Options & GM Guide
124 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
Now this book.  I knew I needed this one the moment I read the table of contents.  This book expands the game in a number of really awesome ways. Now all classes can go to 7th level and all the core classes get a boost.  That is great, and we get 13 new classes. They are Equestrian Show Rider, Equestrian Rider, Monster Hunter, Party Animal, The Performer, Phantasmagon, ROTC Cadet, Soviet Spy, Spy in Training, Street Tough, Survivalist, Teen Ninja, and the Telepath.   We also get five new Magic classes! Black Witch, Mechano-Mage, Nature Witch, Voodoo Practitioner, and White Witch.  All with a bunch of new spells! So yes, I am quite excited about these.  Worth the price on the cover alone for me.
Additionally, we get a bunch of new skills.

The last half of the book is everything 80s.  I have seen a lot of 80s guides in games before, but this one is very comprehensive.  These sections include 80's Crushes/ Idols, Your Songs of the 80's, Your Movies of the 80's, Random 80's Movie Quote Table, and Your TV of the 80's.  And just listing these does not do this lists justice at all.  I consider myself an 80s aficionado and there are things here I had forgotten or even never knew.  I am little surprised there isn't a Dark Places & Demogorgons 80s mix list on Spotify.
Really glad I got this book and I consider it a must-have for fans of this games.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Vampire Sourcebook
36 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
With the Vampire Sourcebook, we move DP&D a little further away from "Stranger Things" and "X-Files" territory and more into the realms of "Fright Night", "Lost Boys", and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".  The cover in fact is very reminicent of all the above.
We start off with an introduction to basic vampire pop-culture lore and quickly move to a list of vampire movies of the 1980s.  It's a solid list, I knew all the titles so it feels complete, but I am sure there a couple Euro flicks missing.  Not a big deal since that is not the focus of this book.
We get stats for a variety of vampires and plot hooks/backgrounds for all of them.
The book is designed for DP&D, but it really can be used with any OSR game.
For more 80s fun combine it with some New Wave Requiem from the World of Darkness game.
If you want to play a vampire then I suggest The Blood is the Life - Basic Vampires as a mostly compatible solution.
It is a thin book and I would have liked to see more varieties, in truth this probably the perfect size. Vampires are series-ending "Big Bads" not just your monster of the week.  So characters are only likely to see one or maybe two their entire game life.

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Werewolf Sourcebook
36 pages, color covers, black & white interiors.
Same size, but a step up from the Vampire book to be honest.  There feels like there is more material here and I will admit I was surprised to see the page count was really the same. 
We get a little background on werewolves as a horror trope. Different means of causing lycanthropy are also covered.  There is also a section of infecting humans and how it alters their stats, including Player Characters.  Now I would say that being a werewolf runs counter to what a GM might normally want to do with a DP&D game, I can see it coming up.  Good for drama really.
Now anyone that knows me well knows I am "the Witch guy" and before that I was "the Vampire guy".  So I was totally expecting this to be my least favorite book, but no chance of that!  This is a great book and even better than the Vampire book.
There plot hooks, NPCs, monsters AND a complete adventure.  The book is packed. Well worth the money spent.
IF you can only afford one of these books, Vampire or Werewolf, then I would put my money on the werewolf one. Plus it has some fantastic Jacob Blackmon cover art, so what could be better?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Adventures with Venger As'Nas Satanis

Somewhere in the depths of Hell...or the Midwest, hard to tell these days, +Venger Satanis is plugging away putting out material for his own style of Old School gaming.  I thought it might be fun to check in on some of his newest books.

I like Venger's stuff. It is the right amount of nostalgia, old-school charm, sleaze and high production values and often tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Full Disclaimer: Venger sent me copies of His Flesh Becomes My Key, High-Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar, and Stairway of V'dreen for review.  I already had purchased Stairway of V'dreen and I bought Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss a few days ago.

His Flesh Becomes My Key
18 pages, $3.00, PDF
A cool horror/noir murder investigation. While overtly made for The Outer Presence RPG it is mostly crunch free. So it could be used with 1930s Call of Cthulhu, 1970s Chill or even in the 2010s with any game.  Frankly I would like to try it with Witch: Fated Souls or even Majus.  It is that flexible.
Now putting this right out there, this one is less tongue in check sleaze and more gritty urban horror.
I will not spoil the ending, but it is part of what makes this adventure interesting and good to use with nearly any horror game.
Personally, I think it is great fun and would love to try it out under different systems with different groups just to get a different feel each time.  Come to think of it, there is something in the adventure where I COULD run it multiple times, with the same players and characters under different systems.
This adventure is Eldritch Pulp meets the ugly streets of New York or Chicago or San Francisco of modern day.  It is has a nice "old school" vibe to it.  It is H.P. Lovecraft meets Clive Barker.  I hope to see more like this.

High-Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar
18 pages, $5.00, PDF + image file of game
I think most of Venger's adventures revolve around finding a dead body.  That's how this Alpha Blue adventure begins.  I am inordinately fond of Alpha Blue, so a new adventure is always welcome.
The adventure revolves around the game of Q'uay Q'uar.  It is a big deal in this area of space.  There was a Doctor Who episode, "The Wedding of River Song" that features something like this with Chess.  Now imagine that, only with purple and yellow pieces and none other than David "Space" Pumpkins as your host. Then you have an idea what is happening here.
There is alot going here with a lot of characters.  The PCs can compete in the Q'uay Q'uar challenge or they can be observers. There is a smuggling ring to stop (or join up with), a mercenary and a ton of other things to do here.
Included in the adventure is a PDF on how to play Q'uay Q'uar and an image file of a board.
I would be utterly disappointed to hear that Venger does not have his own Q'uay Q'uary game set up to play at home. I did something similar for Ghosts of Albion: Blight with a game of Fidchell. I did make a Fidchell board (well, really a Tafl board).
Like all of Venger's products, this one is heavy on substance and style, and light on crunch.  I could see this played under White StarStarships & Spacemen, or even the new Star Trek game.
I am going to use it in my Star Trek/Cthulhu-mythos mash-up for certain!

Stairway of V'dreen
19 pages, $4.00, PDF
This adventure for Crimson Dragon Slayer (or any OSR/Fantasy game really) starts In media res with the PCs needing to find shelter. Here they meet Doctor Ebzub and his almost completed experiment.  What happens next is ... well ... ok the PCs end up in V'dreen. But is V'dreen is left to some questions.  It feels like some in-between world where PCs encounter the remnants of gods that were, or could be.  V'dreen is a dying world. Not in the Jack Vance sense but in the "it is rotting right before your eyes" sense.  The PCs must either save it or euthanize it.
There is a fair bit of meta to this adventure and a lot more that can be added by any group.  This is the type of adventure that works best with a group that has been playing together a long time, but maybe the first time with these particular characters. The adventure can be played for bizarre laughs or as deadly serious.
Either way it will be a lot of fun.

Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss
14 pages, $3.00, PDF
Have you ever wanted to make your own adventures? Do you want to be like Venger and write them like a fucking boss?  Well, this is the book for you then.  Overtly the book is focused on people writing their own adventures for the first time, but the advice given is so solid that even old veterans like me kind find it useful.  Some of the advice is common sense, but never underestimate the value of stating something plainly.   There are no groundbreaking revelations here, no paradigm shifts and no occult insights. And that is perfectly fine by me.  Adventure writing is not supposed to be Shakespeare, it's supposed to be Poe.  The advice given though is rock solid, and it provides easily repeatable to create fun, entertaining adventures that don't feel like a railroad.
Honestly, I would package this up with his How To Game Master Like a Fucking Boss to give GMs a full toolbox of advice and tricks to help any adventure; whether they wrote it themselves or grab one off the shelf.   Venger really should bundle this with the Character book and call it the "Be A Fucking Boss Bundle".
I have a Trek game coming up. I know what I want to do with it, but I am going to run my ideas through this book and give them a test.  So far all the advice has panned out well and I believe that this will be a better adventure because of it.

Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss
13 pages, $3.00, PDF
I picked this up based 100% on my reading of Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss.  In fact I did not even own this book when I started this review.  This book is great. Plenty of advice on how to play your character to get the most enjoyment out of it.  A lot of this I already do and have done for years.  In fact, I think playing in horror games made me a better player as well as a GM. I see a lot of that advice here too, but with a different focus.
I stand by my idea of the "Be A Fucking Boss Bundle".  Using all this advice will make you a better player and a better GM.

I started this review a couple of days ago, since that time OneBookShelf started their Christmas in July sale.  So ALL these titles are on sale now.  Grab them, now. Make them yours.  Your Players will thank you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Under Her Spell

"When a witch has a feeling it must be listened to, and promptly." - Isabella Fox, Mediocre Witch.

Under Her Spell by Bridget Essex came to me from a variety of different means.  One, which I'll mention in detail below, was because she was the author of another book I had read.  The second, though I didn't know it at the time, was because it was an update to a book I had read a while back.

First though to the book proper.  Under Her Spell (and let's be honest here. How was I NOT going to grab this book?) deals with Isabella Fox (a very mediocre witch) and her talking familiar Alice.  Isabella has just been run out of her last town and she needs a new job.  As a witch for hire, especially one that is only so-so, she doesn’t have a lot of options.   She spots an ad for a town that needs a witch to cast one spell a year. How could she possibly screw this one up? So she ends up with the town of Benevolence.  Benevolence is quiet on the verge of boring. The town is full of "Shifters", people that can take animal form and have their own type of magic.  She only has one spell to cast every year (and she is not even convinced it’s needed) and it would be the perfect gig.  Except for the Outcast.  The outcast is Emily Deer. Her ancestor betrayed the town to the Wolf of Winter and now her whole family is outcast.  Since Isabella doesn't even believe the Wolf is real (and whom she is supposed to cast the spell to ward off) she seeks out this strange, and beautiful outcast.

And that is where it hit me that I had read this book already...sort of.  I had read "One Solstice Night" by Elora Bishop some years back.  Well, Elora Bishop is Bridget Essex.  One Solstice Night is just a section in Under Her Spell.  The remaining sections cover Imbolc (a ghost story) and the Equinox (dealing with an ancient god).

The common theme though is love. Love of friends, family and of course romantic love. Though to use a quote, "there was plenty of magic."  Isabella and Emily are a great romantic couple. Emily is so down to earth and Isabella is such an air head (but in the best ways possible) that you can't help but root for them.  The only couple that is better is Virago and Holly (they are below).

There are a lot of cool locales that I hope we get to see in Essex's other books (again, see below).  The Hag Bar in the World’s Largest Swamp was a really cool idea. It was very easy to see all these witches, holding brooms and their drinks walking around, drinking, chatting.  I wish I had thought of it.     Benevolence is an interesting town.  I enjoyed the casual magic people were using and Essex did a great job of detailing the inhabitants.  The Rose Temple is a fantastic setting for any D&D game (ghosts and all) and I can't wait to read more about Arktos City from her other books.

Now I came to Bridget Essex via another book.  I had been searching for a book where a Knight falls in love with a Witch.  Spend any time here and you know I love witches but I am also fond of Paladins.  I was looking for a book then where a knight in shining armor finds a witch and falls in love with her.  What I ended up finding in my search was A Knight to Remember by Essex.  It had everything I was looking for, a dragon, a knight, a witch and even librarian (my current witch character is also a sage).  It just didn't have them in the order I was looking for!  The knight (Virago) and the librarian (Holly) fall in love, and the witch is the librarian's brother!  Still. This was also a really, really great read. It introduced me to Essex (or re-introduced me) and to her creation of Arktos City.  I will say that Virago is one of my favorite charcters ever.  She is so pure and focused on her task, duty and mission that she could have come off as a complete jerk, but instead, she was noble and just.  She really was the epitome of a paladin in my mind.
From this book and her website, I found so many other books including Under Her Spell.

A Knight to Remember is another fun read, but not much in the way of witches in it.  Though I have to admit I was cheering at the end during the Ren-Faire Jousting scene.

I am going to be reading more of Essex's books. She has a gift for writing and for making characters you really want to cheer on.  Plus I have a guess on what is going to happen next for Emily and Isabella and I need her to write the next book so I can find out if I am correct!

Bridget Essex can be found on the web at: https://bridgetessex.wordpress.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 16 (16.5 if you count AKtR)
Level: Crone
Witches in this book: Isabella in Part One and Three, her classmates and various other witches in Part Two.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Isabella is a mediocre witch.  No, she is all good.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Lots of great choices to be honest. Arktos City feels like it is right out of Blue Rose.  The openness of witches, shifters and same-sex love is also right out of Blue Rose.
Virago, the knight in A Knight to Remember, is a Rose Knight in all but name to be honest.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! In fact I would love to have Isabella and Emily make an appearance as guest stars.  Plus her witches drink inordinate amounts of tea just like mine do. How can I say no to that?

In truth, there is so much great stuff here for a game.  Here and there in her books Essex has built a mythology and a history worth exploring. From her knights, to Arktos City, to the Temple of the Rose Goddess and her magical academy. Not to mention all the shifters and witches!

Gamers also already know the knight Virago.

Here she is on the cover of a Knight to Remember.


And again on Q Workshop's Classic RPG Dice Set!


I know, both Essex and Q-Workshop legal purchased the same bit of stock art and it might be a little tacky of me to share this.   But I will admit I bought those dice just because they had "Virago" on them.  I already have some dice for War of the Witch Queens, but I might sneak these in.

Looking forward to reading more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reviews: Battleaxes & Beasties and the Witches of Hagswallow

I have been wanting to get some more reviews in and I am woefully behind schedule. So along with my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms, I am also investigating more games and products built around Swords & Wizardry.

First up is Battleaxes & Beasties by +Anthony Hunter.


Battleaxes & Beasties is a core rule book from Sleeping Griffon Productions. It is based on Swords & Wizardry, but has some interesting quirks of it's own.   The book is 175 pages, black & white interior with color covers.   There are hardcover and softcover options, I am reviewing the PDF.
We spend a couple of pages going over the basic "what is roleplaying" and "what are these funny dice".  We have all seen this a 1000 times, but it does make it work well for a new player.  Indeed the whole book is great for anyone that has never played before.
Since this is based on S&W we have the same basic six Attributes and modifiers.
It is not till we get to the classes that we some changes.  Now B&B can act as a standalone game, there are enough classes here, but it can also act as a supplement to and other S&W-based game.  I could not help but feel there was a certain level of, well, camaraderie between this game and The Hero's Journey.  Both fall closer together on the "Heroic vs Muder Hobo" scale than say Dungeon Crawl Classics.  The classes include a Beguiler (which is like a Bard, but instead of songs he masters lies), the Faithful (like the cleric), Hunter (something like a Ranger), Scout ( Ranger-y Rogues), Totemist (Druid-Shaman cross),  Warrior and the Wizard.  All the classes advance to 10th level, so this is solid White Box territory.  After the human classes, we get race-specific classes.  Now, these are a lot of fun really. There is the Dwarven Guardian, Dwarven Paladin, Elf Ranger, and the Halfling Outcast.  Seriously fun stuff. We are 20 pages in and the book has paid for itself in my eyes.
There is a section on careers, which other games might call backgrounds.
Spells come next and are sorted by class and level.  There are some new ones here too, not just a rehash of the same old spells.  Additionally, magic is divided into Arcane, Miracles and Fey magics. An interesting touch if you ask me. It doesn't have a lot of game play effects, save on how Rangers learn spells, but it does provide a nice bit of flavor.
Next, we get to the default setting for this game, the Borderlands of Zarteth.  It starts with a "Z" so you know it is going to be a dangerous or at least strange place!
The setting is very D&D; that is neither good or bad, just what it is.  I got the feel reading it that was Clark Ashton Smith plus Robert E. Howard, without the extra helping of doom and despair. It's not 4e Points of Light, nor is it Hero's Journey's "Let's go on an adventure" nor is it the Grimdark of DCC.  It is in between.
The rest of the book is the Referee's Section. I say "rest" but it is really half the book. Everything you expect is here.
The gem here is the Monster section. The monsters are divided up by type first then alphabetically.  There are some nice new monsters here too, again making the book rather worthwhile.
To go with those monsters are some great magical treasures.
There is also an included adventure, reference sheets and a nice character sheet.
Battleaxes & Beasties does not break any new ground, but covers the same ground in interesting ways. Interesting enough to make it easily worth 10 bucks for the PDF.
I am caught between 4 or 5 stars out of 5 here. I'll give it a 5 to adjust the review average.

Witches of Hagswallow Adventure is an adventure for Battleaxes & Beasties.
It is 47 pages, color covers, Black & White interior. Designed fro 3-6 characters of 2-3 level. It can be run directly after the included adventure in the corebook and gives more background on the setting of the Borderlands of Zarteth.
It is a great example on how even the simpleist monsters can be used to great effect.  The "witches" are not witches of course, they are harpies.  But for all practical purposes, the might as well be.  After all these are 2nd level characters; most have just learned which end of the sword is the dangerous one!
There are a lot of great maps, a bunch of new monsters and it expands the world a little bit more for the players.
The adventure also comes with pre-generated characters.
Everything comes in the PDF, but separate files are also included.

All in all this is a very fun system.  Familar, but with a enough new materials to make it completely worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wizards of the Coast Print On Demand: The Results, Part 2

I received a few requests for some more pictures of the Shady Dragon Inn.


Here is the spine.  It is Perfect bound. No staples.




Various shots of the text.  It appears the same as the early editions.  Maybe a touch fuzzier, but nothing that I consider a deal breaker.  Barely noticeable in fact.


How can you tell this is a new print versus a really, really well kept original?  This page. This is the same sort of page found in all DriveThru/OneBookShelf/LightningSource books.
Note how the bar code is not an ISBN one.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reviews: New Castle Falkenstein Supplements

During October I reviewed a ton of new (and old) Victorian Era games and supplements.  I didn't get to everything I wanted so I going to fix that now.

Fist up are a couple of new books for the venerable Castle Falkenstein.

Full Disclosure: I received free copies of these PDFs in exchange for a review and also because the author knew I would like them. He was right.

Castle Falkenstein: Curious Creatures
Author J Gray, Artist Rick Hershey, Fat Goblin Games, 146 pages
Ok, we all know I love monster books. Like all Castle Falkenstein books, new and old, this book is gorgeous.  The art is fantastic.  The book is a nice mix of travel guide, creature catalog, and journal.  This is a fairly common feel to all CF books and it is served well here.  The first 50 or so pages cover some new rules and some various stories.  The central conceit of the book has notes from the very Doctor Doolittle. I have to admit this is really awesome.  I wish I had thought of it, to be honest.
The next 100 or so pages cover the Bestiary proper. This includes about three dozen monsters, as many normal creatures and a little more than 20 or so unique characters and intelligent animals.  This includes Doctor Doolittle, Gregor Mendel, Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.  The surprises include Mowgli, Riki-Tikki-Tavi and Fantomah.   The mere fact that Fantomah is here really increases the value of this book in my mind.
The writing is very fluid and is a pleasure to read.  The CF stats are, well CF stats, you either like that game or you don't.  The bonus here is that this also makes the book extremely flexible for use with any number of systems.  In fact, this book is a very fine supplement to be used with any number of other game's monster books.  The art, is for the most part, Public Domain, but that is something I REALLY like in my Victorian books and here it flows seamlessly in with the text.
I don't have the softcover book, but I am considering picking it up now.  It is really that good looking and really that useful.
Do you all remember the old "Enchanted World" books from Time-Life books?  Well, this book reminds me of reading those.  It is less like a game book and more of a coffee table book of monsters.
This is a very, very fun book and I am so pleased to have it.

Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
Author J Gray, Artist Rick Hershey, Fat Goblin Games, 6 pages
Now this is a fun little book.  It's not long, only six pages, but it packs a punch.
This guide allows gamemasters of Castle Falkenstein to use a standard tarot deck instead of playing cards for the game.  There are additional rules to cover the Major Arcana.  If you play CF then I would easily say this is a must have.  If you play other games that have a playing card mechanic then is also a useful resource.  I am considering using this with Victoriana. I think it would work fantastically.

Both books are so much fun. I am really pleased to have them.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Reviews: Leagues of Gothic Horror Guides (and a Kickstarter)

Yesterday I went on (and on) about my love for the Triple Ace Games' Ubiquity-powered Leagues of Gothic Horror.   Today I want to focus on a few of the supplements from the Kickstarter.

In all cases, I am reviewing the dead tree and PDF versions of the books. I purchased these via the Kickstarter they had a while back.   All links are affiliate links. No review was solicited or expected outside of me emailing the author to say "hey,  I am reviewing your books" a couple of days ago.


Leagues of Adventure - Globetrotters' Guide to London
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 78 pages.
A great sourcebook for the Leagues of Adventure game this covers the City (and County) of London in the 1890s.  The bulk of the book is devoted to a "tour" around London pointing out places of interest.  There are also sections on the police force, entertainment, and transportation.  The book is largely fluff free (ie not much in the way of games stats) so it immediately has utility for a wide variety of games. Even the adventure hooks for London are game-stats free. Most of the game-related material comes in the form of detailing various NPCs and archetypes, but there is enough flavor test to still make them usable in other games too.
This is a well-researched guide and extremely useful.  If you are playing a London-based Leagues of Adventure, Leagues of Gothic Horror or Leagues of Cthulhu game then I say pick this up.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Black Magic
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers Black Magic and "Wickedness".  This book is fairly setting specific, so it has more game stats than some of the other guides.  I still found it to be a fantastic read and can't wait to try some of this out in my next Ubquity game.  The book covers a brief history of "black magic" practices around the world.  Later (Chapter 2) we move into why someone might take up this sort of power.  Fiendish lairs are also discussed since in the tried and true traditions of both Gothic and Pulp fiction every bad guy needs a lair.
The next three chapters I found the most interesting, they are respectively, Power, Demons and Evil NPCs.  So much great stuff here that I really could spend dozens of sessions working through all the ideas this has given me.  In particular, I have a Ghosts of Albion adventure that would work so much better with some of the ideas here. I am going to have to re-run now under Ubiquity to see.
For a small book it packs a lot of punch.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Apparitions
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers ghosts and the damned.  Again, this is fairly setting specific but a lot of the material here is drawn from myths and legends from around the world, so first of there should be something in this book that everyone recognizes. Secondly there is plenty in this book that everyone can use.
The first third of the book covers why ghosts happen and their nature. This is followed by the means of disposing of these pests and some of the powers that they have.  The last third (more like half) covers new monsters and some very specific ghosts.  Frankly it is worth the cover price for the ghost of Lady Macbeth alone.
I once said in a game at Gen Con that are more ghosts in London than living people.  This book helps prove my point rather nicely.
Another really solid buy.



Also don't forget about TAG's newest Kickstarter, Leagues of Cthulhu.  Yeah the name is awkward, but it does tell you exactly what this is about.  My youngest son, who is turning into quite a Lovecraft fan, really wants this game.
You add on any other "Leagues of..." book you like.


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