In line with some of the talk going around of improvements in the general OSR/DIY community, I've gone and revamped my reviews to be a bit more directed. They're still going to be rambly and based primarily on clusters of personal impression points rather than in-depth analysis, though.
Krevborna: A Gothic Blood OperaJack Shear
What is It?: A system-neutral gothic horror setting guide / toolkit.
- The title is very accurate. You know exactly what you are getting into.
- Provides everything one would need to run just about anything - NPCs, monsters, factions, cities, wilderness regions, potential dungeons, encounter tables, aesthetics character backgrounds, plot seeds, recommended reading.
- The formatting is such that each topic of note is a table, bulleted list, or a single paragraph. Each city and region has the same sections in the same order, all nice and neatly spaced. Very easy to read.
- The Bloodborne influence is super-strong. Mostly this is a positive, though when we had gotten to Grail Dungeons I was less enthusiastic about it.
- There is not a whole lot of art (that which is featured is very good), which when combined with the formatting leads a lot of the book to look pretty samey. There's a good deal of whitespace. But, that does make it easy to find information on the page.
How I'd Use It: Most likely I would nestle Krevborna out in the hinterlands, and leave dangling hints and rumors of the goings on far away. It seems a good fit for a strangers in a strange land setup, so "invited to partake in elaborate vampire hunt" would also not be out of the question. I could definitely see adapting the tables in Yoon-Suin to Krevborna to supplement the provided adventure seeds.
Chromatic Soup, issues 1 & 2Evlyn Moreau et al.
Physical copies purchased
What is It?: A pair of regional-setting gazetteer-zines filled with classes, monsters, random tables locations, and all manner of practical plug-and-play things.
- Free pdfs, less than 5 bucks each for physical copies of 100+ pages, and Lulu regularly runs free shipping coupons. This is the highest quality-to-cost ratio in RPGs, by my reckoning
- Content that can be plucked out and used as one desires. Links between entries can easily lead you into gradually introducing more stuff as time progresses. All the great strengths of zines are here on display.
- The settings are full of weird backwoodsy folk and weird backwoodsy locations, fleshed out through the content.
- Digest size makes for easily handling and carrying about.
- There's no issue 3 yet, and thus I can neither submit content to it nor purchase it.
How I'd Use It:
Several of the classes have already snuck their way onto my master list of character options. With the way the books are organized, that alone will bring in other entries. The Tarry Baunbak, demon salesman of vol. 2, is sure to appear in my games at some point.
Nick LS Whelan
Perused and played
Disclosure: I helped playtest this (though not all of it) and am credited in the book.
What is It?: A town come down with a terrible plague of the demons with a dungeon below. Comes with an audiobook!
- The audiobook module is both novel and helpful. Nick's done a great job with Blogs on Tape, and in proper form he's able to get all the content to sink in and stick.
- The encounters in the town are all memorable (on account of being terribly fucked up). Writing is vivid and to the point. The mutations are visceral and gross. Adding the Violence as a temporary event complicates all reactions.
- The gotcha (the demons are neither demons nor evil) is, unlike many gotchas, not just there to screw over the players. There's a solid amount of interaction choices and potentials to be had.
- Offhand mentions of the practices of the ancient cult and the Creature that Lurks on Mars are the right kind of flavor-that-probably-won't-come-into-play: short and evocative. Same with God-most-Censorious.
- The art and photo collages really aid with the off-kilter tone of the whole thing. The time limit adds the looming dread into the mix.
How I'd Use It:
Standalone adventure, and it's already been added to the docket.