Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary

by various authors

Publisher: Atlas Games
ISBN 1-58978-030-2
Hardcover Pages: 368

The "Penumbra Fantasy Bestiary" by various authors, and brought to you by Atlas Games, is one of the rare alternative bestiaries that is really worth what you pay for it.  With over 200 new monsters, and over 20 new templates, as well as listing creatures by type and sub-type, terrain, challenge rating (from 1/4 to 22!), supplemental summoning tables, and a list of material that's new to d20.  There are five icons that help GM's separate all these monsters by stats - including The Wolf, The Cat, The Hand, The Mask, and The Eclipse (only the very highest characters should attempt a violent encounter with a Eclipse creature).  Almost all of the pages in this tome are filled with monsters, and they come in all varieties.  All include at least one adventure seed for GM's to use to introduce new creatures to their campaign.  There's an informational block sidebar for further detailing your creatures so they won't all feel like monsters from the box.  The forward includes a lot of info about awarding XP to encounters.  The 20+ templates give you dozens of ways to further customize the critters herein.  My only fault with this book, are the generally poor illustrations - some of them almost look like clipart.  Altogether, though, I'd say this one is well worth picking up.  Highly recommended.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Mother of All Encounter Tables

 by: Greg Ragland

Publisher: Necromancer Games
ISBN: 1-931275-54-8
Hardcover Pages: 141

"The Mother of All Encounter Tables" authored by Greg Ragland and produced by Necromancer Games and distributed by Troll Lord Games definitely has the usual Necromancer Games "Third Edition Rules - First Edition Feel".  After the Intro, there is a short section of how to customize the book, and then not one, not two, not even three, but no less than ten different examples of how to use the tables inside.  Then there's a table index followed by the Master Tables charts.  There are tables for: Arctic, Sub-Arctic, Temperate, Sub-Tropical, Tropical, (all of which have both day and night charts), Aquatic, Underground, and Deep Earth.  Then there's a short section for weather and terrain, followed by a series of Non-Monster encounters.  There are also charts for Roads and Trade Routes - on land, over seas, and even subterranean.  There's a couple of charts for NPC adventures such as a caravan.  My only fault with the book is the mostly sideways printing.  But you'll get used to this after a short while of really using the book for those moments when the players go one way and the DM had plans for them to go another.  The unique use of a d1000 (yes, three d10's) makes for plenty of differences in randomly generated encounters.  Not for Players mind you, but for overworked DM's.  140 pages of good crunchy stats.  As the book says: "You never know when ants will infest your food, or when the cleric gets hit by lightning!"  Highly recommended.