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Men & Monsters of Ethiopia: An RPG Sourcebook for 5th Edition
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2016 00:24:54

So I'm actually really curious about this book from Skirmisher Publishing, Men & Monsters of Ethiopia is a fifth edition source book. Ethiopia is a damn complicated place in mythology & history; the fact that there is a fifth edition source book is pretty damn good in my opinion. This book covers a mythic and mythological version of this Christian nation state's peoples, monsters, and background legends which as existed for a very long time indeed. This is a fifty three page book partially inspired by Michael J. Varhola trip to Ethiopia and his experiences there getting real world inspirational material for this book. My own experiences with this incredibly rich and vibrant land come from two foreign exchange students from this land way back in '88. But my gaming experiences go back much further. But back to Men & Monsters of Ethiopia, this book has everything you need to flesh out a fifth edition campaign. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I embrace adult themes and controversial subjects and for the better part of history dating back to 316 AD the country has been Christian. So the subject of religion was handled with kid gloves in this book; "From the 4th century onwards, of course, Ethiopia has been a strongly Christian nation, and beginning in the Middle Ages the country had a significant Islamic presence, both factors that prevail to this day. This is something many DMs might not wish to reflect in their own campaign settings, however, and, in any event, might not fit well in a typical polytheistic milieu. It might therefore be simpler to draw on the pagan religious traditions of the country, which included worship of the Classical deities of the ancient Mediterranean (e.g., one early king of the region refers in a proclamation of victories over his enemies to assistance from “my august god Ares” and to making sacrifices to Zeus and Poseidon). Game masters can easily use the saints and concepts to which many churches in Ethiopia are dedicated as an indicator of which Greek gods might be worshiped in any particular area or temple. St. George, for example, is the patron saint of Ethiopia and could easily be replaced by the demigod Bellerophon, who has many analogous characteristics and is presented similarly in artworks."

Game masters can easily use the saints and concepts to which many churches in Ethiopia are dedicated as an indicator of which Greek gods might be worshiped in any particular area or temple. St. George, for example, is the patron saint of Ethiopia and could easily be replaced by the demigod Bellerophon, who has many analogous characteristics and is presented similarly in artworks." Fine I'm willing to forgive this bit of oversight but it does serve a duel knife in some respects on the one hand this is a book about a mythical version Ethiopia and it serves as a source book for that in spades but it makes the rich history into a pseudo or alternative mythological version of history. This is fine because it allows the the DM to take full advantage of this mythology to create their own version for campaign work. But something about it bothers me; the work doesn't take advantage of the rich historical and mythological tapestry of the Ethiopian kingdoms and peoples or does it? As well shall see this is not as easy to point out as it first seems. We get a huge sectional overview of the usual fifth edition classes adapted into the lens of these complex lands and mostly this is for NPC development. Here's the sort of frame work that we're speaking of here;"Bandits might be encountered individually, in small roving bands that prey on travelers, or as irregular military forces under the command of local warlords that subsist by raiding or extorting tribute from villages and other vulnerable sites. Bandits that operate on the Red Sea, and to a lesser extent on inland lakes and rivers, are more commonly known as pirates. Low-level characters of this sort conform in all respects to the statistics for the Bandit in the official 5th Edition monster guide and leaders to the Bandit Captain entry in the same resource. There is a 5% chance that all the brigands in a small band, or only the leaders in a large one, will be cannibals that are just as interested in eating victims as they are in robbing them." Suddenly those bandits become a bit more then simple quick encounters for a basic fifth edition encounter. The artwork in this section is black and white, it does a solid job of conveying the setting but a bit more richness in detail in some of the pieces might have added a bit more flavor to it. The text does a great job of taking you into the setting. There's a certain something missing in this section when it comes to the black and white line work. The next section goes into animals and its really here that the book shines a bit more. We get guidelines on how animals are viewed and a few hints as to even that there might be prehistoric survivors within the setting. We dive right into adapting existing monsters from fifth edition into an Ethiopian campaign. This section is rich in some detail and local color consider for a moment this little blurb on lycanthropes; "Were-creatures of various sorts can be found throughout an Ethiopian campaign setting, notably Werehyenas and, to a lesser extent, Wereboars. There are also rumors of Werelions but whether they actually exist or not is open to debate. All such creatures, in any event, conform to the general characteristics of Lycanthropes as described in the 5th Edition rules. In a land rife with holy men, rich in silver, and frequented by adventurers, however, Lycanthropes tend to get kept in check and only rarely become a significant problem." Generally this is a really well thought out section on adapting and modifying existing animals and monsters into a specific Ethiopian setting. Its well done and not too badly generic. It conveys the right amount of color and push for the book. The next section is really the meat of the book; here we get into mythological Ethiopian monsters and there are some powerhouses in here. The Boharia is a medium level threat that has a few surprises up its sleeve including the ability to flick poisonous blood at their victims and they're a wolf like species. A very nasty detail of these bastards is the fact that they use pack tactics on their targets and taken together can mean that PC's could be in real trouble. Caracals are mid-sized wild cats which can prove to be a surprise for a PC or two not expecting a bobcat like animal capable of doing a bit of damage. They prove to be interesting and unexpected find in this book. There's a lot more going within Men and Monsters of Eithiopia then I was expecting; " There are 17 new monsters with 29 stat blocks for them. There’s 20 pre-existing monsters that have been adapted for the setting. There’s 11 types of NPC, with 5 new stat blocks for them" mostly everything has been drawn from legends and mythology are within this section. Now earlier in this review I mentioned history and here's where the book really begins to draw on mythology and we get a real overview of two earlier edition Monster Manual favorites the Catoblepas finally get's its due as a force to be reckoned with. These monsters are drawn straight down from mythology of Ethiopia and will shake PC's up even with their mere appearance not to mention the toxic horror that is their calling card. These things eat toxic substances and poisons even invading camps to consume this horrid delicacy. Catoblepones are not aggressive but are irritable, and will lash out with their sharp tusks against anyone who comes within reach of them. The swamps and mucklands of Ethiopia are their home and adventurers best give these areas a wide birth. Then we get the Cetus and this island sized monster is nothing to mess with. The hero Perseus and Andromeda are tied in with this powerhouse. We get the Debbi with his aura of fear and then its straight on to the Arwean Dragons whom are all descended from a despotic draconic ruler of Ethiopia; these things are rare and very dangerous. They should be used with caution on the DM's part. These are the big guns of a campaign and are miniature versions of the dragons of Dark Sun. Dragon kings of old capable of ruling kingdoms which is their birth right. These monsters are entire campaign starters themselves and could be used as the basis for a vile villain of incredible depth. A very nasty piece of work indeed that can really cause all kinds of harm to a party over time. We then get into a legendary race of men known as the Gibetas who are a mysterious and ancient race of people that may have originated in Egypt. Underground dwellers, master combat engineers, mystics, & experts at mathematics, architecture, cryptography, and construction and are believed to have built many subterranean fortresses, temples, and other structures throughout Ethiopia, especially in its northern regions. Cave halflings are on the menu as well here and we get a nice entry on these weird and mysterious peoples. There is quite a bit to work with here for extending a campaign venue. There's a sense in these entries of the depth of research that the authors really put into this book. The monsters in this section are centralized to the setting of fantasy Ethiopia and there's a nice well rounded sense of atmosphere with this book. Now knowing Skirmisher Publishing as I do this is only the first in a line of Ethiopian themed fifth edition books in this line. I can see this being a setting that they're be exploring more of. So is this a good book for a fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign? Hmm its going to be a very interesting question and the answer is two fold, if the dungeon master is interested in an African themed campaign in the wind swept regions of Ethpopia then yes this is the book for you. If this is a book that you're looking for as a casual monster book to add more men and monsters to your campaign possibly not. This book doesn't seem to be for the casual DM. There's volumes of material here with room for lots of expansion into full blown campaign material here. I'm going to give this a four out of five because some sections of this book seem a bit weaker then others. The unevenness of this material means that a DM is going to have to do a bit more research on their own to get the most out of it. All in all I think that it is work a look and there's more then enough meat on the bones to flesh out a campaign or two with this book.

Eric Fabiaschi
Want to read more reviews and material about this as well as other OSR products?? Then please subscribe to Swords and Stitchery http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Men & Monsters of Ethiopia: An RPG Sourcebook for 5th Edition
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Men & Monsters of Ethiopia: An RPG Sourcebook for 5th Edition
by Clint S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2016 06:04:21

I like this book! The subject matter is off the beaten path of Fantasy Medieval Europe, such that you do not see it otherwise represented, which is great. but there is also some throwbacks to fairly iconic creatures from past editions of D&D - the Leucrotta and Catoblepas, for instance! The statblocks are laid out in familair format and the writing is very good! I also like the manipualted imaes,w hch give a more fanciful feel than simple photos! And the line art is very evocative of teh maerial! Well Done all around!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords of Kos: Necropolis
by Richard P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2016 08:28:46

Love the art, love the subject matter. Greek mythology has always fascinated me and Michael writes with such authority and detail I almost forgot I was reading a work of fiction. The locations involved are so accurately described, it would be easy for any GM to recreate the setting for their own adventures. Great stuff!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords of Kos: Necropolis
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Nuisances: Director's Cut
by Richard P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2016 08:24:05

Too busy laughing to write a sensible review, buy it you won't be disappointed!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nuisances: Director's Cut
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Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
by Richard P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2016 08:19:04

Love this product, love the cover art too. I love this concept, I really like the changing 'battlefield' mechanic - highest card and lowest card wins is fun but what to play when second highest wins... lots of fun bluffing.

I thought the rules were relatively straightforward but after reading other reviews suggest checking out the Cards and Quests YouTube videos to anyone who wants to see how the game is played. "D-Inifinit plays Cards and Quests" is a whole adventure and very funny it is too.

I also have the Cards and Quests Bestiary and recommend you get that too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
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Cards & Quests Bestiary 1: Monsters of Kos
by Richard P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2016 07:47:13

Delighted with this product. I have the Cards and Quests rules, which I heartily recommend you check out too.

You can never really have enough monsters in your bestiality and this book does a great job of providing you with new and classic encounters of all power levels. I like the chart at the beginning, in particular, which gives you a feel for the challenge rating as is prevalent in other RPGs such as D&D. With Skirmisher you are always guaranteed a quality product at a reasonable price and this is no exception. I can easily see myself using these monsters in other games even when I am not playing Cards and Quests. Excellent purchase, well done all involved.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cards & Quests Bestiary 1: Monsters of Kos
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Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
by Andrew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2016 19:18:29

Game looks good, but is there character sheets? There was suppose to be some I guess but I can not find them in the book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
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Publisher Reply:
Hi Andrew! The character sheets can be downloaded here: http://www.foxandoxcreations.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/CQ_CharacterSheetsLQ.zip We hope you enjoy your game!
100 Oddities for a Wizard's Tower
by Tom H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2016 21:36:38

Another win by the lads at Skirmisher. This is the second "100 Oddities" supplement I have had the pleasure of looking through. I loved their "100 Oddities for a Graveyard" entry and the Wizard's Tower is no less detailed and useful for GMs. With this book you don't just get the 100 entries for strange things and situations the players may stumble on. You also get additional d20 and d12 tables to help you build the structure, flavour and feel of the Tower. This could be used to help create a careful, pre-planned adventure or used on the fly as a type of "tower randomizer".

The entries on all of the tables included in this book are colourful and have enough detail for plenty of adventure hooks or just cool random bits that can add to any scenario. Some entries are darkly humorous, others frightening and some just plain weird or disturbing. Perfect!

Check all of these GMing gems by Skirmisher out, they are well worth it and very reasonably priced.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Oddities for a Wizard's Tower
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Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
by Brendan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2015 01:30:16

A simple and satisfying to play game that uses a neat alternative to rolling dice.

Using cards means players have the option of succeeding when it counts. The battle mechanics introduce a fun meta-mechanic where the players are trying to bluff the GM and guess what they have in their hand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
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Cards & Quests: An Innovative Fantasy Role-Playing Game
by Jeff H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/03/2015 06:04:04

Admittedly, I am a harsh critic. If I am presented with a sloppy product, I won't even finish reading it (no matter how good the material might otherwise be). I didn’t finish reading Cards & Quests.

I don't trust authors who can't spell, allowing too many typos, and who use "insure" when they mean "ensure." If a writer can’t edit his work, he shouldn't sell it.

The introduction explains that you are playing a fantasy RPG, but it does nothing to orient you to the setting, nothing to explain the kinds of characters available. Nevertheless, immediately after the short intro, you leap right into character creation. It's like creating a character in a vacuum. It's a stark experience and utterly uninspiring.

Then you're told you need a character sheet. I have flipped through this PDF backward and forward. I can’t find one character sheet. And there’s no index at the back of the document. An index would have been super nice.

Without a character sheet, I scoffed and exited out of my PDF of Cards & Quests. I am insulted by the product. I consider it ten bucks down the toilet.

Oh, and by the way, if you're new to roleplaying games, DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT. You won't have any idea what's going on. It is apparently written for experienced gamers only. Would have been nice of the author to let us know beforehand.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
100 Oddities for a Graveyard
by Tom H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2015 19:04:49

The 100 Oddities series by Skirmisher are a great resource for GMs. Having looked through the "100 Oddities for a Graveyard" I was really impressed with the concept and the content. Being new to sitting in the Games Master chair, resources like this are a real treat. When you are trying to just stay on track with telling a compelling story for players and master a rules system at the same time, well written supplements that do some of the heavy lifting in the area of adventure hooks, impromptu situations and spontaneity are always welcome. The 100 Oddities series does not disappoint. The fact they are not tied to a specific set of rules make them easily adapted to any material you may be working with. Taken as an inspirational source they can give you some cool ideas to build full scenarios from, and with 100 entries for each of these gems, you won't run short any time soon. For GMs who are a little more comfortable with improv, a roll on a d100 gives you a random situation which could add some flavour and unexpected results. These also aren't restricted to the setting they are named for. with a few small changes, a graveyard becomes a post apocalyptic ruin, etc. Another good product from these folks. Recommended, five stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Oddities for a Graveyard
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100 Oddities for a Graveyard
by Jason A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2015 09:06:27

You’re walking through a cemetery… Why? Why the heck are you walking through a cemetery in a roleplaying game?!? Nothing good is going to come of that even if you trust your GM, but this book has hooks and seeds galore to make it interesting.

Whether you are looking for a plot after the death of a PC?NPC or a random encounter for your group, this book will give you loads of ideas and questions as to how your PCs live their live that they are walking through a Graveyard!!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Oddities for a Graveyard
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2015 12:15:15

100 Oddities for a Graveyard From Skirmisher Publishing is a great ten page pdf of adventure location and adventure setting dressing for your adventures. This book is system agnostic and will fit just about any game system and this is a good pdf to acquire for both modern and old school systems. But is it actually useful for the gaming table? Well let's dive into this book.Basically 100 Oddities for a Graveyard is a series of random d100 charts that can add interesting game adventure elements to an adventure location. This enables with a toss of the dice a DM to add in a whole evening's encounters for a game. Graveyards have always been the domain of horror films and survival horror adventures, but this book gives a ton of interesting side bits to sneak into an adventure. This includes the exploding dice principle rule - One final thing: Oddities for a Graveyard employs a dice rolling sub-system often referred to as “Exploding Dice.” In this sub-system, a die that rolls the maximum value possible [i.e. a 6 on a d6] is rolled again, and the new value is added to the previous total. This continues until a value other than the maximum is rolled. So, you might roll a d8 and get 8, then roll again, get another 8, and then, on a third roll, get a 3. You would then stop and total the results, in this case a 19 [8+8+3]. When we are referring to an exploding die roll, you will see a lower case “x” after the die notation, as in “d10x.” With some of the encounters this adds an element of weirdness and some horror to some of the results. But on the whole the book provides a whole host of adventure elements that can change up a rather mundane romp through a grave yard location. An example of what you'll find in this book includes the following: "An arch of stone creating a portal over the head of a grave. Directly over the top of the arch, the stones frame a circular hole. Local legend recounts varying tales of what happens when someone stands on the grave and gazes upon the moon or sun through the hole over the arch; stories of mystical portals, visitors from other realms, glimpses of the future or the past, or a departed love one are but a few." The graveyard isn't usually the first adventure location that leaps to a DM's mind but this book basically provides all of the weirdness that you want to be inserted right into the back end of their campaigns with little issue. For a dollar this is a pretty solid investment for any new or old school gaming system. William Thresher's artwork adds a sense of whimsy and weirdness to the book. Don't let my comment fool you there's enough here to keep even a group of Call of Cthulhu investigators guessing at least for a night or two. This is one of the places that this book excels at keeping adventure encounters moving so that you can get to the heart and soul of your grave yard adventure location. There are other places that 100 Oddities for a Graveyard could be used. Personally, I'd use this book with a mix of post apocalyptic and straight up dark fantasy, many of the encounters and ideas in 100 Oddities for a Graveyard lend themselves to a mix of games. For me this would be a mix of Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord Advanced. The PC's stumbling onto a post apocalyptic graveyard adventure location could easily support the material in this ten page pdf. With a toss of the dice a DM could dress different parts of an adventure location quite easily. This book can add a sense of the epic and weird to a simple romp through a grave yard. Seriously there's some great encounters to unleash on players and their PC's. Do I think that its worth the download price? Yes I do indeed! Many of the encounters sound like they'd be perfect to add into a Phantasm movie like campaign.The idea of outdoor crawling among the grave stones is pretty appealing for a post apocalyptic or more modern survival horror style of game. A sprinkling of undead, ghosts, or your favorite post apocalyptic horrors and your ready to go. There's more then enough of an adventure construction and encounter kit to outfit a gang of adventurer's with a mini campaign or two. The adventure elements are well done in such a way that you can take this book as a simple stepping stone or a fully realized night of dungeon crawling through a cemetery. Eric Fabiaschi Sword and Stitchery Blog Want to see more reviews and OSR material like how to use books like this one? Subscribe right over here http://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100 Oddities for a Graveyard
by Ilya Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2015 20:17:38

Love the 100 Oddities series. Those PDFs provide just what you need. It works great for a lazy DM like me when you have all the plot in mind, but need some tiny details to make it feel real. Looking forward for "100 Oddities" in other settings!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Jester Dragon's Random Brothel Generator
by Darryl J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2015 17:04:39

Great little generator. 8 pages of content, ranging from brothel name / specialty lists to Signature move and prostitute background generators. A surprising amount of content contained within this little packet. I was expecting just a few words attached to some d100 lists but this goes greatly into detail, telling you practically every detail you could want to know about the brothel. Easy to concoct hooks for places or to insert a brothel some PC has unexpectedly decided to visit.

Definitely a product I would recommend.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Jester Dragon's Random Brothel Generator
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