Saturday, 7 July 2018

OSR PDF Reviews # 2 (Fast Locations: Cave Geomorphs + Folk Book) + A Dungeon!

(Explanation of my review methodology can be found here)

Fast Locations: Old School Empty Cave Geomorphs. 

Available at: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/244230/Fast-Locations-Old-school-empty-cave-geomorphs

Three pages of this.


What is it?

Three pages of four to five geomorph map segments that fit together to form a larger map, See image above.

Strengths? 

Looks cool: The geomorphs are suitable "old school" looking. If you were to plonk them down on the table in front of your players it will lend you an air of mystique and credibility. They probably look cooler than any dungeon map I could draw. You could print them out, put them in front of your players and  fill in the details as you went - rather than having to draw the whole dungeon as you go.

(Relatively) easy to use: Using Paint.net, I found it pretty simple to connect up a few segments and make a nice looking "old school" map. See bottom of the post for that example. This would probably be a pain in the ass to do without some sort of digital paint program.  With a bit of work you could print them out and cut them out so are like a fun physical puzzle pieces.

Weaknesses? 

Not that many: I would probably be much more excited if this PDF had 10+ pages of geomorphs. Clocking in at 12 total segments, many of which aren't going to connect up to one another due to the specific placement of exits/entries, there isn't really a wide variety of mapping that the PDF can do for you. You would probably only get three or so dungeons out of the set before things started to get very repetitive.

Kind of hard to match them up: The geomorph segments do start looking cool when you put a few of them together. Unfortunately due to the rather specific dimensions of the connecting tunnels, its more annoying than would initially seem to build a larger map. As mentioned above, this limits the amount of variation you are going to get when using these geomorphs.

Some (further) assembly required: Getting complete, logical maps requires you to manually connect up and terminate some of the pre-existing mapping. This sort of defeats the purpose of a premade geomoph. It's not too bad  of a job if you have access to something like Paint.Net or are OK with scribbling on the geomorphs you have already printed. Also, the geomorphs are quite small, so you will need to enlarge them if you were going to use them as is at the table.

Surprisingly linear results: The largest chambers only have one entrance. Often the end result is long wiggly corridors that are ultimately linear because the start and terminate at a predetermined point. If you look at my map at the bottom of the page,  PC's will clearly move towards the big chambers.  You can only get to each along a predetermined path . You can go left or right at about room 1 to either get to room 9 or 4/5. 6, 7 and 8 are just a circle too, so again - very linear. I don't know if all the dungeons generated this way will result in the same sort of layout (I did artificially terminate 2 entrance where room 2 and 3 are) but with the limited quantity of choices I would say so.

Too many  wiggly useless corridors! Not a lot really happens in corridors - maybe a trap or a random encounter, I want more chambers to put weird stuff into! The sheer amount of piddly little corridorlettes would do my head in while I was running a game. 

How could you use it in your hexcrawl? 

This PDF would be ideal for whacking down as maps for any caves you happen to find in your hexes. You have a solid three maybe four relatively large caves here that are going to be fun to run around in as long as you don't mind an abundance of wiggly small corridors. You still need to stock them all.

How could you use it in your urbancrawl/megadungeon? 

Same as above. When the sewer turns into natural cavern system, whack these out. 


Folk Book, People to Meet, Murder and Mutilate

Available at: http://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com/2018/06/free-rpg-day-book.html


About 130 pages of this. Solid.

What is it?

A frankly intimidating amount of instantly useful tables, with a  vaguely grimdirty fairytale/medieval  fantasy theme. Tables can be used while running a game at the table or prepping alone. Basically 130 pages of pure d100 tables that could be useful for most games I can imagine running.

Strengths? 

Lots of tables: A little under 40 d100 tables. Some of them really, really useful. So useful in fact I'm going to use them to quickly stock the cave dungeon I made using the Cave Geomorph PDF I reviewed above. d100; Dungeon Bosses, Necromancers, Stranged Headed Wizards, Cults, Rival Dungeon Parties, Exiled knights, Philosophers, Hermits, ETCETERA! Lots more etcetera.

Good amount of detail on the d100 tables: Entries on the "entity" d100 tables are about a sentence long and have the perfect amount of detail to either run there and then at the table, or to sit and digest in prepping sessions into a more fleshed out character. Example: From "Petty Dungeon Bosses": "Kirrith Dron - Wererat and his ratmen cult seek to establish selves here and to city thieves guild".  I've got a cool name, I've got lackies, I've got motivations. I can whack that dude in a dungeon and run him pretty damn easily. Print a couple of these tables and you have random encounters sorted for the next few years!

Good depth of tables: Not only does Folk Book contain an impressive breadth of d100 tables, there is a further tables for use with the major d100 tables. There is generation tables for creating your own dungeon bosses and their retinues, generators for making your own strange wizards, cult generator tables, personality tables, desire tables and amazingly quite a bit more. There is going to be something useful for your game in this PDF. 

Weaknesses? 

Slightly too cumbersome to use at the table without a bit of planning: As has been made clear, there is A LOT of tables in Folk Book. There isn't a comprehensive index or contents, so you will need to preplan the tables your most into before a game. Too much content is a pretty weird thing to complain about but there it is. There is also a bit of repetition with some of the "tragedies" tables (barbarian, noble, savage, urban, villager) and I think a single "family tragedy" table would have sufficed. The sheer volume of content gets in the way of itself at times.

Organisation: The lack of a comprehensive index or content does mean wading through pages and pages of tables to find the gold. There is things in here I would probably never use in my game, and then things I would definitely use, and they are all smooshed in together against one another. Some clearer grouping of tables by subject would be nice. For example there is Dungeon Boss plots, Necromancer plots, and What is the monster doing right now tables all at the back of the book. It would have been easier to group them together with the monster/necromancer stuff. There is also a bit of difference in style in the tables - some are much vaguer and designed to be used by the GM when they are alone prepping. Others are more of the here and now random encounter tables. Dividing these two types of tables out would be useful.

Too many tables!? (or at least a few too many tables about urchins): I think the single d100 urchin table would suffice. There is a whole urchin generator table which I'm glad exists but gets in the way of more useful stuff. There is an intimidating amount of stuff in this PDF and I think ripping some out would make the whole thing much easier to navigate and use. There is a d20 tables for urchin loot which is just different types of rubbish - I would much prefer one of these tables for dungeon bosses or necromancers. Regardless, download this PDF and cut out the tables you don't want and you still have a monster amount of content generation ready to be used.

How could you use it in your hexcrawl? 

Use this to stock your hexes. If you running a more standard fantasy hexcrawl this PDF will stock realms upon realms of hexcrawls. You could easily make this stuff fit in whatever bio apocalypse hellscape your hex crawl might be set in though. Bandits, Dungeon Bosses, Necromancers, Wizards, Rival Parties, Knights, Strange Hermits and Philosophers ready to be stocked!

How could you use it in your urbancrawl/megadungeon? 

There is a whole "Grimy urban folk" section. d100 random encounters for urchins, loners, shack dwellers, seamen, convicts, old murder hobos and carny freaks. That's d800 random encounters in a town (or a megadungeon with a bit of creativity - just change the race of the encounter from human to whatever the dominant race of the megadungeon is (fishmen or somesuch I would wager). 


Bonus, Here is a Dungeon Using the Above Two Reviewed Products:  

The map has been generated using "Fast Locations: Cave Geomorphs", the dungeon has been stocked using "Folk Book" (Key NPCS/NPC Actions all straight from the tables as written in the PDF - the rest of the dungeon stocking I made up using the NPCs as catalysts for ideas. Table results straight from Folk Book are in bold).  



On the outskirts of the town there is a cave beneath the charnel grounds. Its entrance it hidden by bones and corpses and smoke. The worst pariahs and neer do wells and outcasts of the town dwell here.

1) Smoke swirls about this chamber filled with the ruins of past camps of vagabonds and outcasts, dozens of spent camp and bonfires, and broken leather tents. Rival Party: Band of dopplegangers, seem like awesome  guys similar looking to party composition, They are currently eating groats.  Will claim the same names as that of similar looking PC's. Roll a d4 to see what the party of dopplegangers does: 1) Attacks the party, mimicking their strategies, 2) Hides from the party, and sulks after them until they are separated to fill their ranks with a fake version of a PC. 3) Causes trouble with NPCs in room 4, 8 or 9 - convincing that NPC that they are the PCs, then running away, 4) Offers to assist the party as long as they can share their names. 

2) Bloody filth sludge water drips from the ceiling. A smashed barrel is in the center of the chamber, d20 dead goblins lay scattered around it - holding various piles of human limbs and dung. The stench of the room stings the nostrils. (Vorsus Blackfang's  in Room 8 killed these goblins with necrotic gas).

3) d10 Goblins searching for and scraping bat dung into brass pots. They are  comparing and contrasting their finds, taunting one another. This cavern chamber is quite high and and a crack in the ground allows bats to come in and out of the cave. They will attack if disturbed.

4) Huge cavern, covered in filthy torn  rag curtains. 6 ragged goblin tents, housing d20 goblins. Piles of dung and human body parts (gathered from charnel grounds above). Mazkeen Viril - cult leader has goblins collect dung to feed creature in cult pit, human flesh good too. His Cult = The Lord of Decay, have been working on a new plague to torment humankind. The cult have been fermenting a great pool of decayed filth in secret with chained prisoners to test the disease. Currently sleeping. Mazkeen wears an enormous bundle of rags and a great, face covering, straw hat. he is sleeping, comfortable supported by his bundle rag robe. If awoken Mazkeen, will offer PCs the chance to join his cult, or he will imprison them in the pit/kill them.

5) The experimentation pit of Mazkeen Viril, The Lord of Decay. 10 foot deep pit, housing d10 chained and dying prisoners, plus d20 corpses. Entering the pit test CON to avoid getting plague and dying in d4 days. if you contract it everyone you encounter until you die must test CON to avoid the same fate.  A "special prisoner" is in the centre of the pit: Vradis Korrelan, bubbling mass of lard with a human mouth, canspit hot fat. Mazkeen often torments Vradis, as he was an old rival. Vradis is mad from his capture and attacks any that enters his pit.

6) Stinking sulfur springs. Filthy water pools. d6 Barrels can bee seen being levitated towards Room 7, transported by Vorsus Blackfang unseen servants (Room 8).

7) There is a crack in the ceiling of this chamber. A  pile of very decomposed bodies have slopped down from the charnel grounds above through this crack. Hidden amongst this grisly pile is d20 Barrels of poison (Belong to Vorsus Blackfang in Room 8). 

8) An ancient stone hut has been built into the walls of this chamber. Inside is: Vorsus Blackfang: Master poisoner who uses unseen servants to poison other then he robs them. He started small but works himself to kill small towns with necrotic gas. Nowadays he uses undead to hurl barrels of venom into wells by night. He may even pretend to be a victim of poison to throw off investigators.  If  he is caught unawares he will be dipping a bat into a barrel of avid, gleefully giggling as it dissolves. Vorsus will try to recruit PC's in poisoining the other NPC's in the dungeon and then demand they assist him in poisoning the town.

9) Cavern inclines towards the South East corner where a colorful tent has been erected. Inside is: Chondura = sorcerer with pet ogre and some charmed bugbears, dreams of owning whole dungeon, is currently sparing and training with ogre. Is shirtless, sweating as he spars with his pet ogre (which does fight hard but always lets him win). Chondura is a relatively jovial sorcerer and will actively recruit PCs to help him kill Mazkeen and his goblins (One Mazkeen is killed Chondura will probably attempt to kill the party so he can finally have the dungeon to himself).