Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Thursday, February 17, 2022

I Am A Lying Liar from Liartown

I was cleaning up my office on Wednesday, waiting for a meeting to start when I started going through a bunch of binders I have.  In particular a few for notes on my witch and necromancer classes (maybe I'll do a necromancer one day).  Anyway, I sorted through all my notes and I found many treasures.

3.5" Floppy disk.  What treasures await??

The fruits of that labor are:

More Monsters!

And...I dug up enough information for not just two new witch books, but three.

For the last year or more, I have been talking about "My Last Witch Book" the High Witchcraft Tradition.  The High Witchcraft book is very much tied up in organizing all my notes and sources project, so I knew I was going to find new material for it today.

I knew I had a lot for it, it was just all over the place on whatever I decided to take notes on.  I thought I had maybe enough for it and another, smaller, book.  Nope. I have enough for three different books now.

I am not really ready to reveal what these other books are/will be.  I reserve the right not to do them if push comes to it.  

So. Yeah.  I guess I do have more books in me.  Though I think I am going to keep the High Witchcraft book as the Last book.

Now I just need to dig up a 3.5" floppy drive.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review: Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

Old School Essentials
Arguably one of the biggest success stories of the late OSR movement has been the publication of Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy (2019) and Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy (2021).  Indeed I feel that OSE has supplanted Swords & Wizardry, the darling of the middle OSR movement as the old-school game of choice.  It is the old-school game of choice here in my home game, alternating between it and D&D 5e, and seems to be the most talked-about game in the old-school discussion areas. 

This is all with good reason.  OSE is well designed, superbly organized, and has wonderful art.  There is a minimalist approach to the rules and presentation that does not detract from the experience, instead, it rather enhances it.   You can see my enthusiasm in my review of the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Boxed set back in 2020.   So imagine my surprise when I learned I had not given OSE Advanced a proper review yet.

I have detailed my introduction to D&D many times here. But briefly, my "first" D&D was a poorly copied version of Holmes Basic with an AD&D Monster Manual.  My first "true" D&D, the one I could properly call my own was Moldvay Basic/Cook & MArsh Expert (commonly referred to as "B/X").  I would over the course of a year or so add in elements of AD&D.  Most importantly the Deities & Demigods, the Fiend Folio, and a copy of Eldritch Wizardry.  *My* D&D was always a mish-mash of Basic D&D and AD&D.  I later discovered that my playstyle was not at all unique.

Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy Edition really strikes at the heart of what this sort of play was like.  The familiar and easy Basic/Expert rules with AD&D layered on top.  Layered is the right word, AD&D had a lot of situational rules and rules used in tournaments and rules designed to cover what looked like medieval realism.  As real that is in a world where half-elves fought dragons with magic.  OSE-AF strips this down back to the B/X style rules found in OSE-CF and then adds in what people used the most from AD&D.  No weapon speed factors, no tournament scoring, just D&D-style play.  

OSE-AF is divided into two books, the Player's Tome and the Referee's Tome.

I am a sucker for a book with a ribbon

For this review, I am considering the hardcover books I got via the Kickstarter, the PDFs from DriveThruRPG, and extra copies of the Player's Tome I picked up at my FLGS.  All books were purchased by me and none were submitted for review purposes.

OSE-AF Player's Tome
OSE-AF Player's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

The Player's Tome covers everything an OSE-AF player needs to know. The book details a lot of the same rules that are found in the OSE-Classic Fantasy (or read: Basic) rules.  This new book though integrates the "Basic" and "Advanced" material together with some notes on the "Advanced Fantasy" sections. One might be tempted to say that this book is not needed if you have the OSE-CF book, but that is not really the case. While there are certainly more classes, and more monsters in the case of the Referee Tome, there is still quite a lot of new material here.  Enough to make AF twice as large content-wise as CF.   

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages.  So a character class always takes up two pages (even and odd) so that when laid flat everything can be read at once and easily.  There are very few exceptions to this rule and it gives OSE it's unique look and feel. Add in the art, sparingly but effectively used, the feel is elegant, if minimalist, efficiency.   This is the same design that made D&D 4e a joy to read.  The same feeling is here.

Advanced Fantasy follows its Advanced namesake and splits character race and character class into two separate things. Basic combined race and class so you got Clerics (always human) and Dwarves (always fighters).  Here is the option that most folks want in the "Advanced" game.  In addition to the four classes and the four races of Basic, this book introduces six more races and nine more classes.

In the OSE-AF book, we get: Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Knight, Magic-user, Paladin, Ranger, and Thief.

There are also the "race as class" variants of: Drow, Duergar, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Halfling, Half-orc, Human, and Svirfneblin.  The level maximum is 14 for humans and variable for others. All race/class combinations are detailed.  This covers our first 80 some odd pages.

What follows next are guides for character advancement, equipment, animals of burden, transportation, and crews.

The next biggest section is Magic and this covers all the spells for the magic-using classes. Since the max level for any human is 14, spells are limited. Divine spellcasters are limited to the 5th level of casting and Arcane to the 6th level. The advantage here is the clerics and druids are on more equal footing with each other and so are magic-users and illusionists.  Unlike their Advanced namesake, this book does not require spell components nor are their other details given.  The spells are firmly in the Basic format.

The book wraps up with Adventuring, Hirelings, and building strongholds.  

The feel is solid B/X Basic with enough "Advanced" added in to make it feel just a little different. Or in other words, exactly how we used to play it from 1980 to 1983.

OSE-AF Referee's Tome
OSE-AF Referee's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

This book covers how to run an OSE-AF game.  Some of the details here are the same as OSE-CF but there are enough rules additions and clarification to make it worthwhile to anyone that has OSE-CF.

The first part covers running the game and adventures along with designing a dungeon and wilderness areas.

The next section, Monsters, makes up the bulk of the book.  All the old OSE-CF favorites are here and most of the Advanced era monsters.  In 107 or so pages we get over 320 monsters.  Again the art is light, but it is there.  We do not get any Demons or Devils, those are coming in a future book from my understanding, but it is still plenty.

The next largest section is Treasure which includes intelligent swords.

We also get sections on monster tables by terrain, strongholds, and NPCs.

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages. This is less obvious here as in the Player's Tome, but it is still a solid feature.

The two-volume set might just be the ultimate in expression of the time period in which I was doing my earliest D&D play.  There are other Basic/Advanced hybrid games out there and they all provide a good mix of their sources, but it is OSE-AF that is the closest to what I was playing then. All of the fun of Basic with the options in Advanced I loved.   The modularity of OSE also allows for expansion.  While the 1 to 14 level range covers most of what people will play there is no reason why there can't be an OSE-Companion to cover higher levels.

OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1
OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $7.50 PDF.

The sometimes zine for OSE and named for the OGC version of the infamous carrion crawler.

This issue adds the new races to the Advanced Fantasy line, the gargantuan (like Goliaths), the goblin, and the hephaestan (logical, elf-like beings).  I am particularly happy with the Goblin.

New classes for Classic and Advanced fantasy are the acolyte (a type of spell-less cleric with healing), the gargantuan (race-class), the goblin (race-class), the hephaestan (race-class), the kineticist (psychics), and the mage (a spell-less magic-user with magical abilities).

There are new rules for fighters and thieves as well as black powder guns.  I like the fighter talents, help give it a bit more to do really.  They are at every 5 levels, but I might make them every 4 instead. 

OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet
OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $4.00 PDF.

This handy guide covers all the major tables found in the OSE Advanced Fantasy line. For $4 it is a great little reference.

Through out all these books and the entire OSE line the art is both evocative of the old-school style and still modern enough to please new audiences.

This is the game of choice for me to introduce old-school style play to players of modern games. My regular 5e group took to it like ducks to water. They love it. They still love their 5e games, but they also like to do this one.  None of them had ever played B/X prior to this and it was a huge success.

I know that Gavin Norman and Necrotic Gnome have more material to give us for this, I hope it all lives up this new gold standard I set my OSR book to. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Review: Comes Chaos

Comes Chaos
I am a complete sucker for anything B/X.  While I have many games I love, it is B/X era D&D that really gets my nostalgia going.  So anything made for it gets my attention.  While the products, both official and fan-made, can vary in quality, I am rarely disappointed.  

One publisher that has delivered well on the nostalgia factor is Jonathan Becker of Running Beagle Games.  Becker, known for his B/X Blackrazor blog, "gets" B/X D&D.  He has demonstrated time and again that he gets how B/X is different that AD&D and indeed other Basic-era clones.  His B/X Companion remains one of my top 10 favorite books of the published OSR books.  So when he came out with a new book I jumped on it!

And...promptly forgot about it!  Ok, in my defense October is like my high holy month and I had a lot going on.   So now it is February and I figure I should come back to this one.

Comes Chaos

by Jonathan Becker.  64 pages, black & white art by Kelvin Green.  

Comes Chaos is a combination rules addition/setting for use with B/X era D&D.  It can be used with other versions of Basic D&D and the various clones, but there is a focus here.  That is appropriate for a few reasons I will touch on in a bit.

Like the Basic and Expert books of old, and his own Companion book, this is a 64 page book.  Printed with it's black and red cover it would look rather nice sitting next to the other books.  At this point Becker has enough material (CompanionComplete B/X Adventurer, and this one) for a reasonable boxed set.  Maybe one with a "3" in the corner.

ARJADEM
PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Comes Chaos deals, naturally, with the forces of Chaos (capital C) and how to use them in your game.  There is an implied setting that can be used as-is or elements can be used in any game. 

The book is formated like that of the Basic and Expert (and Companion) books, so following the flow of information is straightforward.  The difference here is that these are alternate and additional rules. 

This section also introduces the "Four Great Powers" the Demon Lords ArjaDem, MorSolahn, SeiAhsk, and TeeGal.

PART 2: RUINED PLAYER CHARACTERS

Here we get alterations to the seven player characters classes. Clerics of gods of Law, for example, cannot use reversed versions of their spells. But their "Turning Undead" chart is not extended to include the demons of this game.  There is a new Magic-User "sub-class" (that word is not used) in the Chaos Sorcerer.  This class works a bit like the Sorcerer or Warlock of other D&D games. It uses Intelligence as a Prime, but I am going to change it to Charisma. 

The next part of this section deals with Corrupted characters and Chaos Champions.  Corrupted characters are ones that started out "good" and then fell into chaos.  Chaos Champions start out chaotic. These characters also gain the favor of one of the four powers. 

The four powers and their gifts are covered last. The four masters are unique to this book but remind a bit of the sort of creatures one might find in the writings of Moorcock. Not quite demons, not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a little bit of both.  There is also a desire, and this might just be me, to link them up with the old AD&D Elemental Princes.  Maybe because there are four.

PART 3: TAINTED MAGIC

Magic gets some changes in Comes Chaos.  Both Clerics and Magic-users now have some restrictions on what spells they can normally cast.  We also get some new Dark Sorcery spells used by Chaos Sorcerers, Demons, and Chaos Champions.  Additionally, some spells are "patron" spells for three of the four Chaos Masters.  The other Master, ArjaDem, forbids their followers from using magic. 

The spells are in B/X format and there are eight per level for levels 1 to 6.  Some are repeats of other B/X spells. There are enough new spells to keep players on their toes when dealing with a minion of chaos. 

Chaos at work
PART 4: EXPLORING THE WASTES

The Wastelands are areas that are corrupted by Chaos.  Spending time in these lands also leads to corruption and mutations in the living creatures here.  This section also has other hazards such as how long food and water will last, how much movement and time is changed, and what sorts of strange occurrences and creatures that can be encountered.   The section has a whole Colour out of Space feel to it. 

PART 5: BLOOD AND SOULS

This section deals with encounters and combat. Alterations are given for Champions of Chaos and demons as well as others dealing with these threats.

PART 6: BEASTS AND DEMONS

This is our monster section and it has 37 new monsters.  As expected 19 of them are demons and 4 are undead.  There are also corrupted versions of other monster types (elves, dwarves, etc) that can be used as guidelines for other corrupted monsters not listed.  

The demons depicted here are not the Demons of the AD&D monster manual. Nor are they the demons of Earth myth and legends.  These are new creatures unique to this book.  There are some interesting ones here and again the feeling is not quite demons and not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a combination of the two.

PART 7: UNHOLY TREASURES

This section covers the treasures you can find with these creatures or in the wastelands.

PART 8: DEMON MASTER INFORMATION

The person running these games is called the "Demon Masters" which is just a way really to use "DM."  This section covers how to deal with corruption, magical research and chaos magic, and how to design a wasteland.

There is another class presented here, the Witch Hunter, from the Complete B/X Adventurer. Despite the success and dare I say universal approval of his own Companion Rules, this class only goes to level 14.  Though it is mentioned that levels 15-36 can be found in the Adventurer book. 

In fact the next section covers using this book with the Complete B/X Adventurer and the B/X Companion. 

PART 9: SLAVE-LORDS OF CHAOS

This section covers how to run an "evil" game including unique experience point rewards.

Comes Chaos is a great extension to any B/X style game.  Especially ones where "Chaos" is more of a factor than say "Evil."

Chaos in Comes Chaos follows the implicit guidelines originally set up in Moldvay Basic.  Chaos is not just a philosophy or moral outlook, it is a force and "thing" that must be dealt with. I feel this book does a good job in trying to expand on this notion and make it something to use in your games.

The ideas presented here are not all unique; Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dungeon Crawl Classics cover similar ground in terms of Chaos as a Force to Fight and Realms of Crawling Chaos for the Lovecraftian Chaos is a Force.  Comes Chaos though combines these ideas into something that is uniquely B/X.  Yes both LotFP and Realms of Crawling Chaos have strong B/X roots, but this is explicitly B/X.  

Given this, Comes Chaos should work well with Old School Essentials as well.  Though one gets the feeling that OSE is more like "The Hobbit" than it is "Colour Out of Space."  Though I am not sure it would feel the same for Advanced versions of the Old-School games since there is a focus on Good vs. Evil there as well. 

The art by Kelvin Green is great and having one artist to do all the work gives the book a united vision. 

It is available at DriveThruRPG where it is currently just under $14.  The rule of thumb I have adopted over the years is 10¢ per page, which would place this at $6.40.  The price is twice that, but I still feel it is worthwhile.  Again this is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule. 

There is no print-on-demand option on DriveThru for this.  Though none of Running Beagle's books have this.  You can though get print copies of this and all their other books from their website.  Print copies of Comes Chaos are $27.99 and handled via PayPal.

Comes Chaos also is not released through the Open Gaming License.  Not an issue to be honest, but I look at it as a way the creator/publisher "gives back" to the community.  Generally speaking, OGL products sell better than their non-OGL contemporaries/counterparts. 

Comes Chaos is a fun supplement.  I used similar ideas when running my B/X games in the past I will adopt some of these ideas to use in my current OSE game.  I am not likely to use the four demonic princes, my game has a solid cosmology, but I might adopt them for a 5e game I am running that could use Chaotic Evil figures like these.  

Who should get this?  DMs that want to add a little chaos effects to their games but do not want to go the full Dungeon Crawl Classics route.  DMs that play/run B/X and/or OSE in particular. 

This is also for DMs that enjoy the classical roots of the game but whose interests lean more towards Moorcock rather than Lovecraft.

For me, the price and the lack of the OGL keep it from being a perfect addition to my games.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Review: Chromatic Dungeons, Part 1 Basic Rules

Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The craziness that  is October is behind me now, time to settle in and read some books and do some reviews.  I have been planning to do this one now for some time and this feels like the best time for me.

For the next few days I am going to review the new Old-School Game on the block, Chromatic Dungeons from Roderic Waibel and Izegrim Creations.  Waibel ran a very successful Kickstarter for this over the Summer and the physical books and PDFs have been in my hands since the very start of Fall. I am happy to report I am very pleased with what I have received. I interviewed Waibel back when his Kickstarter was live so you can get an idea of the goals of Chromatic Dungeons.   I'll refer back to that to see how well his stated goals were met for me.

Chromatic Dungeons

Let me begin with noting that that there three distinct reviews I am doing here this week.  The first covers the "Basic Rules" made up of Player's Book and a Monsters & Treasures book.  The "advanced" or full game of Chromatic Dungeons will be tomorrow. Finally a zine-like product, The Gnoll Sage, will be after that.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

Basic Rules, Player's Book. 86 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.
Basic Rules, Monsters & Treasures. 58 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

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
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.

Basic Rules Art
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.

Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure
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.  Both books are fully OGC.

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.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the full Advanced game.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Back Home from GenCon 2021!

I just got back home from GenCon 2021.  We had a great time.  We stayed in masks a lot and we spent a little more time playing games in our room and outside, but all in all, we took a lot of precautions, washed hands a lot, and of course got vaccinated a while back.  

For this Con, I did not continue the Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign.  I have been building something cool for it and taking it to Gen Con would have been a pain in the ass.  Instead, we continued on with the War of the Witch Queens campaign.  Everyone really took to Basic Ear D&D well and my son even bought his own copies of Old-School Essentials.

Basic D&D

We picked up our Old-School Essentials at the Games Plus booth. They had a bunch on Day 1 and were completely sold out by Day 3!

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Oh. And despite some claims to the contrary, Gen Con was still full and there were plenty of people here.  We spoke to a few of the restaurant workers and a few owners and they were thrilled that Gen Con was back, even in this limited fashion.

Still crowded

Still crowded

Still crowded

People stayed in masks, for the most part. Though we are still going to quarantine for a bit just to be safe. 

We picked up some great games too.  The kids both work now so they were able to spend their own money. Which is great, cause I bought a lot for me.

Games

Games

Games

So far our favorite has been The Red Dragon Inn by Slugfest Games.  We had a blast with it. I have been wanting it for a bit now and I am glad we got it.

We played some NIGHT SHIFT and that was great.  While we were playing this guy stopped to see what we were playing. He mentioned he wanted to introduce his 10-year-old daughter to D&D.  Long story short, the drummer of the band Shinedown watched our game. I gave him a copy of NIGHT SHIFT, which he loved. 

Not sure what our plans are for next year, but we had a great time this year.  Glad to be back at Gen Con.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

B/X Boxing Match: OSE-Advance Fantasy vs. Swords & Wizardry

Time for another round of Boxing Match. Unlike the last Boxing Match of OSE vs. BX RPG where I was comparing more similar systems.  This time I am going with the current big heavyweights in the OSR.  These games also feature somewhat different systems and different rules assumptions.


To start off both games, Old School Essentials and Swords & Wizardry allow you to play the same sorts of games.  You can even assume that an adventure, or supplement, or whatever written for D&D (any Pre-1997 version) can be used with either of these two games with about equal amounts of conversion needed.  In my mind, the conversion is so negligible that I am not going to factor that at all in my comparisons.

Also in terms of the game that these two are drawn from, both games live in a strange liminal space between D&D and AD&D.  That is at least if we are considering OSE Advanced Fantasy.  OSE builds on a base of B/X era D&D and adds some elements of AD&D.   Swords & Wizardry starts with a base of OD&D and what that would become in AD&D but keeps the rule abstraction at the B/X level.

Looking at the total number of pages is not likely to be very helpful here.  Both games have different levels of modularity baked in so adding or subtracting things is very easy for both.

Format

Both sets split their rules up into various books. Overtly there are Player books and Gamemaster books.  Among the player books are also books dedicated to spells and magic.  OSE books are in hardcover format, S&W are soft covers.   There are fewer pages to the S&W books overall, but considering their smaller, sans-serif font I feel that content-wise they are mostly the same. 

Swords & Wizardry nudges ahead in one way. Their set includes a set of seven polyhedral dice. The addition of a GM's/Referee Screen that fits into the box makes it stand out.   

The round goes to Swords & Wizardry.

Swords & Wizardry

Classes

Just going with "out of the boxes" classes these two games compare well in terms of "base" classes. 

In the Swords & Wizardry Player's Book, we have the following: Assassin, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Magic-user, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, and Thief.  Classes have a maximum of 20th level.

In the OSE-Advanced book, we get: Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Knight, Magic-user, Paladin, Ranger, and Thief.
There are also the "race as class" variants of: Drow, Duergar, Swarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Halfling, Half-orc, and Svirfneblin.  The level maximum is 14 for humans and variable for others.

S&W has Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Humans for races.  OSE has all the above-mentioned race-as-classes as races for other classes as well. 

The clear winner of this round is OSE-Advanced, but in truth, S&W is doing exactly what they set out to do leaving these extra classes and races for others to define. 

Old School Essentials

Monsters

Oh, I do love my monsters.  All the usual suspects are here with both cleaving very close to their spiritual god-parents. So lots of overlap with the Monster Manual for example.  Part by design, part by nature of the d20 SRD.

By the numbers, Swords & Wizardry Monsters and Moar Monsters have 56 and 62 monsters (118 total) covering 44 and 24 pages respectively. 

Old School Essentials features 205 monsters over 65 pages for their "Basic" book and 327 monsters over 107 pages for their "Advanced" book.

So for these sets, the round goes to OSE, but keep in mind that Swords & Wizardry Monstrosities and Tome of Horrors bring their monster totals to over 1,400. 

The round goes to OSE. 

Game Play

Honestly, the differences here are so trivial. Combat might be faster in S&W, but that can be open to debate.  The modularity of OSE makes it a great game to have at the table where everything is easy to find and the facing page layout makes everything easy to read at a glance. 

You can use just about every classical resource or adventure with either with no issues.

Both games come with two separate adventures. I reviewed the OSE ones here

Final Round

So. Who is the winner here?  

We are. That is who.  We live in a time of unparalleled choice and access.  Determining which of these games is going to be splitting hairs at best and even then there are still a dozen or so others that fill their same niche.  Not to mention all the original material still out there. 

Boxed sets


Monday, July 19, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Qliphoth, Gamaliel

One of the things I am most looking forward to in my Basic Bestiaries is developing new and different demonic lineages. One of these I have spoken about in the past is the Qliphoth.

The Qliphoth are the discarded husks of primordial beings.  It is natural to think of them like the husks or used exoskeletons of cicadas, or even the skins of snakes. Since these beings were more than mortals currently are and became even more ascended, their husks are more than just leftover skins or skeletons.

Case in point the Gamaliel.  

Gamaliel as a Sensory Homunculus

When the Primordials shed their "husks" or "peels" to be the Luminous Beings, one such husk was their dark sexual desires.  As hyper-intelligent immortal and immoral kindred, their desires were particularly dark. As they shed their evil desires their conscious and subconscious sexual desires and yearnings became the Gamaliel.

Gamaliel based on the Sensory Homunculus
Gamaliel

Medium Fiend, Qliphoth (demon)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6*** (45 hp)
Attacks: 2 hands, 1 tongue + special
Damage: 1d6+1 x2, 1d4+1
Special: Cause delirium, Qliphoth immunities
Save: Monster 6 
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

Str: 14 (+1) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 18 (+3) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 7 (-1) Cha: 2 (-4)

The Gamaliel, or the Obscene Ones, were among the first of the Qliphoth to be formed.  They appear as medium-sized nearly humanoid-looking creatures.  Their hands, feet, lips, tongue, and sexual organs are enlarged to grotesque sizes in comparison to their otherwise small bodies.  They always appear nude as a mockery of the forms their progenitors eventually took on. They may appear as male or female.

Gamaliel lives for one thing only, sensory stimuli. They want to feel everything, touch, taste, smell and hear everything they can.  Yes, when possible they also try to copulate with anything and everything they can.  They lack the subtlety of the Liliam or Baalseraph or even the guile of Calabim or Shedim.  They are nearly mindless beasts that take no heed of anything but their own twisted desires.

They can attack with their huge hands for 1d6+1 points of damage each.  They may also attack with their tongues at 1d4+1.  Their saliva is such that anyone exposed to it via an attack or touch must save vs Paralysis or become delirious.  This state lasts for 2d6 turns in which case the victim is completely unaware of what is going on around them.  There is a 1 in 6 chance that if they were in a combat situation they will keep on fighting with melee attacks. Targets are chosen at random.

Gamaliel can be easily distracted by auditory and visual illusions. They save at a -2 penalty against such magics and can be effectively distracted long enough to be attacked. 

Like all Qliphoth Gamaliel have the following adjustments to damage types: 
Immune: Mundane/Cold Iron/Silver weapons, Poison
Half Damage (save for none): Acid, Cold, Electricity, Fire (Dragon/Magic/Mundane), Gas
Full Damage: Magic Missile, magic weapons, holy/blessed weapons

Unlike other Qliphoth death (their's or others) is not the goal of the Gamaliel.  A dead foe might have an interesting smell or touch, a live one is more interesting and you can do more with them.  For this reason, the Gamaliel are sometimes considered to be not as evil as other Qliphoth; this is a very erroneous and dangerous assumption. They are every bit as evil.  A quick death is far more merciful than being captured and becoming the plaything of a Gamaliel.

--

The mental image I had of the Gamaliel was immediate. They were life-sized versions of the "Sensory Homunculus" we used to talk about back in cognitive psychology undergrad days.  I always knew I aw going to make a monster out that one day.

They are the Qliphoth counterparts to the succubi with roughly the same HD and some powers.  As I define the Qliphoth more I might increase or decrease various abilities, powers or HD/hp. I might even make them Small sized.  Still working out all the details, but that is where the fun is!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Basic Bestiary Updates

Been a little quiet here I know.  So I figured I'd share an update.

Work is progressing nicely again on my various Basic Bestiaries.   I am still working out the kinks of my semi-universal stat block and work on what looks like will be an obscene number of demons.

Basic Bestiary updates

The complete column is the number that is 100% complete, ready for the last pass of edits.  Started has everything from just a name to almost everything minus one or two details. It also includes the complete. 

You can see that when I did this screenshot I was at 623 demons.  That number has jumped by three completed demons and 10 more incomplete/started.   The 10 are my Qliphoth demons I talked about way back in April.   The Qliphoth are just one of the man new demonic groups I am going to be introducing in this book.  

If you have been following my work for a while now you know I have Lilim, Eodemon, Shedim, Baalserph, and Calabim fiends among all my "demons."  This book will introduce the Qliphoth, Asura, Tarterian, Yaoguai, and Yōkai demonic lineages.I have a total of 11 lineages so far.  I just need to find a better name for the Neutral Evil Daemons. 

AD&D 2nd ed renamed them the Yugoloths, which I kind of liked to be honest, but the name is not OGC.   Even Pathfinder still calls them Daemons.  I mean it works yeah and it helps make it easier to use my books with your old AD&D ones.  But I think I can come up with something better really.   I mean I already split the devils into two separate lineages of the Calabim and the Baalseraph, so I am certainly not being tied down by tradition or nostalgia here. Not to mention my Qliphoth are quite different than Pathfinder's Qlippoth.

So why are there FOUR Basic Bestairies? Ah.  So back in April (I think) I was beginning to realize that my Basic Bestiary had grown too large.  I had already portioned off the demons (good plan) and the book was growing more and more.  Even right now I am at 387 complete non-demonic monsters.  So, I made another cut.

Basic Bestiary I, Monsters & Maleficarum, covers all the monsters that kept coming up in my research over the years on witches and witchcraft. This includes many of my Monstrous Mondays posts.

Basic Bestiary II, Books of the Dead, covers all the undead.  At least half of the book will be vampires.  

Basic Bestiary III, Demons & Devils, is pretty much what it says on the cover.

Basic Bestiary IV, covers...well, let me hold on to that one a little bit longer.

The goal was to release them all in 13-week intervals over the course of a year.  Though now I am giving thought to BBI and BBII to be released right away.  I suppose it depends on how much art I can buy and how much of BBIV I get done.

Speaking of art, I had some great art for these, but now I am planning on using that elsewhere.

I am still planning on releasing these in both hardcover and softcover formats so they can fit on your shelf next to your Advanced and Basic-era books respectively.

Basic Bestiary IBasic Bestiary I

Basic Bestiary IIBasic Bestiary II

Basic Bestiary IIIBasic Bestiary III

I am going with the Romantic period Goya and Füssli because they capture the mood of these books perfectly.  BBIV also goes with Füssli.  

I am quite excited to get these to you.  There will be some familiar faces here, but hopefully changed a bit to make them feel new.  My undead book for example takes all the undead combat rules I have used and puts them all in one place. I also universally use my new draining rules here too.  Demons get updates across the board and even what I call "the usual suspects" get a boost. 

My hope is you get as much fun out of these as I did working on them!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Blue Rose as an Old-School Setting?

Last month I put up my review of the new Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide, which allows you to play a Blue Rose game using D&D 5th Edition.

Now. I love Blue Rose. I love D&D 5e.  But I also love my old school games.  To be blunt, I am an old gamer and these games fill me with nostalgia.  Can I run a Blue Rose game using the systems I have here?

Short answer? Yes!
Longer Answer? HELL Yes!

Everything I need is right at my fingertips. So how would I do it?  Let's have a look.  Now I have talked about how to take Blue Rose and run the AGE system like an old-school-style game already.   Here I want to talk about how to take your old-school rules and run them like a Blue Rose game.

Old School Blue Rose

Setting

Grab the first Seven chapters of the Blue Rose Adventure's Guide and use them as-is. Append with details from AGE or True 20 as needed.  I mention the True 20 since some things will be easier to convert from that.

Classes

Blue Rose True 20 and AGE have only three classes, Adept, Expert, and Warrior.  Blue Rose Adventure's Guide has all the classes from D&D 5.  Older versions of the game don't have all of these. No problems let's see what we do have.

In the Blue Rose Adventure's Guide, we have the following Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Thief, Warlock, and Wizard.

By using the "Advanced" versions of both Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord, plus a couple of my witch classes, we could cover every class.  It pains me to even say it but we might not even need my witches here!

True20 / AGE D&D 5e OSR / Basic
 Warrior  Barbarian  Barbarian(LL-A)
 Expert/Adept  Bard  Bard (OSE-A)
 Adept/Warrior  Cleric  Cleric
 Adept/Expert  Druid  Druid
 Warriror  Fighter  Fighter
 Warrior/Adept  Monk  Monk (LL-A)
 Warrior/Adept  Paladin  Paladin
 Warrior/Expert/Adept  Ranger  Ranger
 Adept  Sorcerer  Magic-User
 Expert  Thief  Thief
 Adept  Warlock  Witch
 Adept  Wizard  Magic-user

Ancestry, Culture, and Backgrounds

What old-school games call race we will now break up into Ancestry, Culture, and Backgrounds.

Essentially we can map them like this, rules-wise:

Humans are Humans, Night People use the rules for Half-orcs, and the Vata are essentially Elves rules-wise.  Sea folk are humans with some perks, I'd use the half-elf rules for them.  Small Rhydan can use the rules for halflings and medium Rhydan use the rules for Dwarves. Alter movements and attacks as needed.

Monsters

Every monster in the Blue Rose books has something similar to it in the D20 SRD.  This is an artifact of the Blue Rose True20 days.  If it is in the SRD then there is likely an Old-School version somewhere. I could do a search, but I am pretty confident that every monster in the BR-AGE core can be found somewhere in the Old-School world.

Relationships

Blue Rose pays a lot of attention to how the characters interact with others.  This absolutely should be part of an Old School Blue Rose game too.  Here though mechanics and rules will have to give way to good roleplaying and XP bonuses for characters who play their roles well.  While some old-schoolers may balk at this idea, seeing the characters as only a collection of numbers, the truth is the role-playing aspects that both Blue Rose and D&D5 players love so much today were already all there back in old-school play.  Some of us did it then and didn't need the rules to tell us how or why.

Still, I would offer some XP bonuses for good in-character inter-personal relationships. Especially the bonds.  OR if I REALLY wanted to get old school, XP penalty for not doing it.

Blue Rose + White Box = White Rose?

I might also replace the Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment with Light-Twilight alignment.  Effectively there is not much difference in terms of how one plays a character, but it would give a different feel. 

Everything Else

In truth what I have above covers nearly everything.  What remains can be handled by the DM/Narrator in their own games.  I have already talked about how to use Blue Rose in conjunction with several old-school adventures.

My family really enjoyed playing Blue Rose so I might add some more elements of this game to my old-school games.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review: The Runewild Campaign Setting

Putting the Hex into hex crawls.

A while back I mentioned the Runewild Campaign Setting Kickstarter. I was quite excited about it and happily backed it.   I got my books and my PDFs, but it was in the middle of my Covid-19 fueled busy summer last year. The book has been sitting on my desk, mostly ignored since then.

That is a damn shame.

With all the fun I have been having with Van Richten Guide to Ravenloft lately I wanted to revisit this book and see what I can add to it from this book.  The short answer? A lot.  So much in fact that while there are some great ideas in this book for Ravenloft, there is a TON more for my War of the Witch Queens campaign for Basic-era (B/X, BECMI, OSE) D&D. 

So for this review, I am going to refer to both the Softcover print and the PDF.

The Runewild Campaign Setting

Published by Sneak Attack Press, written by William Fischer, art by Joyce Maureira, and Cartography by Toy Fayen.  306 pages. Full-color covers and interior art. Available in PDF, Hardcover, and Softcover versions. For 5th Edition, recommended levels are 1 to 10.  Available on DriveThruRPG and at your FLGS.

The PDF is fully bookmarked with hyperlinked Table of Contents. 

The Runewild Campaign Setting (Runewild) is overtly a "Dark Fantasy fairy tale" campaign sandbox guide and a hex crawl in one volume.  That is it in a nutshell but does not really do it justice.  Best to break it up a little more.  

From the introduction,

This book includes:
  • A history of the Runewild and its surrounding settlements
  • 150 detailed encounter areas for player characters to explore 
  • 8 new Backgrounds and a new Feat: Fey-Touched 
  • 21 unique magic items (like witch embers and the staff of clarity and confusion) 
  • 32 new monsters (including clockwork dwarves, fey lions, giant forest sloths, and the terrifyingly beautiful Golden Bodach) 
  • Detailed descriptions of the histories, motivations, and weaknesses of the witches of the Runewild, including the Whitebone Sisters; Missus Switch, the swine hag; Korthsuva, the Witch of Hours; and the Hag Queen Griselda, Mother of Ogres 
  • New optional rules for exploration and resting 
  • Advice for running a sandbox campaign 
  • Dozens of random tables designed to help GMs make a Runewild campaign their own

That is quite a lot. Frankly, I was just happy getting the material on the Witches of the Runewild, the rest is gravy for me.  I turn the page and suddenly my "gravy" turns into another dessert course when I am introduced to the "Witch Wars."  Oh. This will be fun.

The book is split into four sections, Running the Runewild, Magic of the Runewild, A Runewild Gazeteer, A Runewild Bestiary.

Runewild Magic

Running the Runewild: This section covers what the Runewild is and a bit of its history.  It also introduces the idea of a Sandbox Campaign.  While many gamers of a certain age will already be familiar with the idea of a sandbox (and even where the term comes from) this might be new to the majority of younger D&D players.  No inditement of their experience; everyone learns something new at different times. This is a good overview of this style of play for the newer generation of players.  

The advice given about Sandboxes vs. Adventure Path is solid and there is even something here that warms the cockles of my old-school heart.  To quote page 10, "e of the greatest difficulties in running a sandbox-style campaign is balancing encounters. In short, there are no balanced encounters in the Runewild."  Players and Characters need to get used to the idea of running away. 

While this might be a shift for some 5e players, it is not a hard or difficult one.  In fact, it is presented in the light of the characters have the ultimate freedom to do what they want.  It is wonderful really and to quote Darkseid from the Synder Cut of Justice League, "we will use the old ways."

The Old Ways describes Runewild to a tee. 

Among the "old ways" are plenty of Random Encounter tables with brief descriptions of what is encountered.  Adventure Hook tables, Scenery tables, Fey prank tables, general Runewild strangeness, random animals, random NPCs, and more.  For new schoolers, this will make the area feel vibrant and alive. For new schoolers, this will feel strangely homelike. Note at this point, 30 pages in, there has been very, very little in the way of stats. An encounter with a Skeleton is listed for example, but where you look up your skeleton is up to you.

We do get into Runewild Backgrounds which are 5e backgrounds.  For 5e they are great really, lots of great information here, and none of them feel overpowering (they grant a skill and a tool proficiency and usually a language) for other games, you can use the native skill system (Trained would be the equivalent in 3e, free Proficiency in AD&D 1.5) or wing it. One of my favorites is a Polymorphed Animal.  You used to be a normal animal and now thanks to strange magic you are human-ish.  Really fun stuff.

Magic of Runewild: This section covers some more game-specific information such as some new feats, curses, and new magic items (lots of these).  But the star attraction of this section has to be the Goblin Market.  There is so much here and frankly, they could have published this on its own and it would have been a great seller.  There are random tables of trinkets, goblin charms, treasures, and of course a list of vendors and encounters.  

Goblin market
“We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry thirsty roots?”

One thing that I felt was missing from this section? Spells.  There are no new spells here.

A Runewild Gazetteer. This starts out with the hex maps of the Runewild. Numbered just like all old-school hex maps too! The hex encounters are then detailed throughout the chapter with a corresponding Challenge Rating. An improvement from older Hex crawls to be sure.  So yeah the party of first-level characters can enter a CR 0 hex with no problem and come out ok. They can also enter into a CR 10 hex with the same level of difficulty (that is, none at all) but they are not going to leave it as easily!  That's a hex crawl. There are no signs saying "You Must Be Level 5 or higher to Enter" if the player goes there, then their characters will pay the price.

Each hex of course has different levels of detail, but they are all given some quick bullet points to help the DM out.   For example:

2. The Last Tower (CR 4)

  • A ghost haunts the tower 
  • Ten giant rats feast on bandit corpses in the tower’s basement 
  • The bandits carried stolen treasure

Then more details follow.  NPCs are noted ad are monsters. There are maps where needed (even a player's map in a few cases!) and yes more random tables. There are 150 such encounter areas and it covers a little over 200 pages. Some encounters are a paragraph or so, others are multiple pages. 

A Runewild Bestiary: Now you know I love this section.  There are over 30 new monsters, monster variants, and (and this is my favorite) listings of  The Witches of Runewild. This includes a bunch of various witches (mostly hags), new types of hags, and the two major and one minor covens.  Again, if they had sold this separately I would have scooped it up the moment it hit DriveThru.   

Here is an example of one of the witches.

Goodie Sharktooth

There is no Witch Class.  Part of me is disappointed, but another part is happy since I can now do what I want with them. 

The chapter and book ends with Monster Variants. 

The art in this book is quite great and helps give the proper mood for this dark fairy tale land.

Using this with Basic-Era D&D

The book feels like a BECMI Gazeteer.   I could set this outside of Glantri and it would feel right. There are 5e stats, but not a lot.  Most of the monsters have an analog in other games.  For example, if you run this with say, Old School Essentials, just swap out the monsters.  BTW this would work FANTASTIC with the Dolemwood products

Runewild OSE

This is a wonderful book and resource and I am very pleased with it. My only regret with it is I wish I had picked up the Hardbound version instead!