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The Manor, Issue #7
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2014 08:02:44
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/08/29/tabletop-review-the-man-
or-issue-7/

The Manor is a OSR style fanzine that I haven’t had a chance to pick up until now. Like most gaming magazines, it contains a range of articles, adventures and new things to dismember. Like a lot of magazines, the quality of the articles varies, although which ones are worth reading depends on the point of view of whoever is paging through it. After all, what interests one person may bore another.

I will say that I enjoyed this issue of The Manor and I will probably be coming back for more. There were six articles and my biggest complaints are in fact minor ones about layout. The copyright information on page two cuts off abruptly after “All Artwork, Maps and Articles are the,” which I first took to be a bad sign, but thankfully the content was pretty good. The other weird layout issue was with the “Tenkar & the Badger” radio ad on the last page. The entire magazine is laid out in portrait, but the ad for this is in landscape, meaning you have to turn your head to an odd angle to read it…or just turn your e-reader if you’re not at a computer.

There are six articles in The Manor, Issue #7, along with a one page introduction from Tim Shorts. The first article is “Boltswitch’s Mobile Potion Emporium.” It’s three pages of fiction where a Gnome named Mikklum Boltswitch is hawking potions from the back of a cart, snake oil salesman style. Seven potions are discussed, with the name in Italics, followed by a description of what the potion does. This was a fun little piece and a neat way to showcase new items. Usually new items are done in a very dry straightforward manner, and I liked the method in which this was done.

“Skinwalker (Coyote)” is the next piece and it’s about a new playable race/class. This was the only article I didn’t care for, but that’s because it felt unfinished. You’re given an XP chart, abilities gain by level and the usual weapon/alignment restrictions, but the saving throws and THAC0 bits are also missing. There is also no indication if the piece is a PC class, NPC class or the like. What’s here has a decent start but it really needed to be fleshed out more. Right now it just feels like there are huge gaps in the piece.

“Mirror, Mirror” is article #3 and it gives us eight magical mirrors to throw into your game. Unlike “Boltswitch’s Mobile Potion Emporium,” “Mirror Mirror” is done in the usual descriptive narrative instead of a fiction based one. Each of the mirrors in this piece are a lot of fun and I really loved the artwork in this article. The Mirror of Mugging and the Mirror of Morbidity are my two favorites. Each mirror only gets a paragraph of description, but that’s on par with what you would find in the DMG, so I’m fine with it as the whole piece is a lot of fun.

“Trouble Down the Well” is the first of two adventures in this issue. You get a one page map and a one page description of the adventure. A well in a small town has dried up and it has started to smoke. The local blacksmith went down to see what has occurred and never came back. Now it is up to the PCs to save the day. It’s a pretty simple and short affair with only a single monster to deal with. You should have no problem playing this in only a single session. It’s a fun little adventure for what it is and that’s all that matters.

The second adventure in the piece is “Horrid Caves” and it is a full length adventure that only has nine locations so it too should be able to completed in a single session. However, the adventure also contains a ton of new monsters and spells. It’s a pretty routine hack and slash dungeon crawl, but the new monsters and spells that show up are quite weird and remind me of something I’d see in Dungeon Crawl Classics. I really enjoyed this piece and since it is for first or second level characters, it’s a great way to let people try out their new characters or to pad out another short adventure.

The sixth and final article is a haiku about a mind flayer. It’s amusing and the full page of art really makes the piece.

In all, this seventh issue of The Manor was a lot of fun, and if I have time, I might pick up some of the earlier issues to see if they are as good. The issue is short, with a page count of under thirty, but it’s also only $2.50, so it’s not as if the zine will break your bank. The two adventures and the two magic items articles are well worth reading through if you are a fan of retro clones like OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry Castles & Crusades and the like. I wish I had more room in this review to showcase the artwork too. If you have the time and spare change, definitely pick this up.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #7
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Execution Corner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/15/2013 10:45:47
In mediaeval times (indeed, probably later) executions were regarded as public entertainment as well as a warning to potential offenders, so this product equips you to present them in similar manner within your games.

Just pick a rural but reasonably settled area in your campaign world and plop this in. There's a charming hand-drawn map showing the execution site, with the hangman's dwelling and an inn nearby, with a field in which the remains are buried. Just schedule an execution on a day the party comes by (or, knowing some characters, they may be more intimately involved!) and let the fun begin.

Described simply yet vividly, we meet Willem the hangman, who takes pride in his work and gets really passionate on the subject of rope, and a couple of locals who peddle their wares on execution day. The innkeeper too, who does fine with passing trade but reckons any hanging is very good for business.

Apart from a few rumours (local superstitions for the most part) that's it. A location, an interesting one, but you will have to supply your own adventures... but here's a unique location in which to have them.

Perhaps the party has been tasked with getting there in time to prevent the hanging of someone who has been condemned by mistake, or they are escorting convicts on their final journey. Or they are just passing through, but someone approaches them for help... the possibilities are endless.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Execution Corner
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Knowledge Illuminates
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2013 11:01:58
Knowledge Illuminates is a 28 page (24 pages + 1 cover, 1 toc and 2 end pages) adventure for Swords & Wizardry complete, though it could be used with any OSR game.

This adventure is designed to be the start of a campaign or the first S&W adventure.
There is quite a lot of information here in case the players want to go off exploring on their own. There is also a fairly detailed XP allocation chart in back, helpful for new GMs.

This adventure is also released under the Pay What You Want feature. So if you have some spare change and need a good starting S&W adventure then this might be exactly what you are looking for.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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The Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:52:15
The Mini Manor is a free adventure made specially for Swords & Wizardry appreciation day. If you are familiar with the adventures found in the Manor zine.
The adventure is somewhat reminiscent of a horror movie setup but works well.

If you want a good free adventure then grab this.
If you want an idea on how the adventures in The Manor feel like, then grab this.

Note: this publication DOES include the OGL.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Mini Manor: Faces Without Screams
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The Manor, Issue #3
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:46:37
The Manor #3 increases to 32 pages. Though it feels like there is more here than that.
The main article is the Mine of Rot and Disease, a great little old-school adventure. Stats are 1980s era D&D, but easily converted to anything.
The art is fair, but perfect really for the feel of this issue. The maps though are quite nice.

Another poetry slam. It is what makes The Manor unique and I hope it does not go away.

Pog Nog the Goblin is a great little NPC/resource and one I am going to use in my next adventure with my kids.

There are some, self-admitted, dumb jokes. Again, perfect for a zine.
Ending with a new god of Monster Hunting.

If you remember the zines of the 80s (and some of the best ones I remember from the late 80s even) then this a very nice stroll down familiar, yet new, territory. If you were not around then but enjoy oldschool games, then this is also a great find.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #3
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The Manor, Issue #2
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:36:09
The Manor #2 keeps right on going with another 24 pages of material. This one is setup to allow you to print it out and then fold it over and staple it for that "real zine feel", nice, but sometimes I prefer to read these things on my computer. (edited to add: There is a regular version as well!)

In this issue there is Hugo's House of Healing. An encounter/resource.
An inn which would be great to use anywhere and a random table of 20 things you find under the cot.

The inn and Hugo's house (that is Hugo on the cover) take up most of this issue.
One other minor quibble, and this is more me than the zine itself. There is no OGL license. Granted, it doesn't really NEED it (and I am not taking off for it's omission) but it would have made it play nicer with the likes of Basic Fantasy, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord.

Still though. Top notch effort and results.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #2
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The Manor, Issue #1
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2013 10:25:04
The Manor #1 is the first of the quarterly (or so) issues of the fanzine from Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor. The zine takes on the feel of old-school zines from the late 70s and early 80s. Though one could argue that the art and layout are better today. The inaugural issue has a quick dungeon, a random table of various items found in a Troglodyte dung heap, a modern day encounter location (with some monsters), forest enocounters and an NPC and his wares.

The Manor captures the feel and the spirit of the old school zine quite well. The only thing that is missing really are ads for local gaming groups!
If you enjoy old-school style new games or the original games they are based on.

All in all you get 24 pages of material. Not a bad deal really.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue  #1
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Knowledge Illuminates
by Jeremy Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2013 04:11:52
I came close to buying this once, but glad I waited for the PWYW version to see if it was worth buying. Most of this product is filler. In 30 pages, you have a small outdoor area with 7 locations, and a 11 room dungeon. More concisely written, it would fill up 2 pages. Indeed, some of the modules by the illustrator of this module, Digital Orc, have huge dungeons in similar amounts of pages. How? No filler.

It has a new spell, which is way overpowered for its level, as it's like animate dead (in that it creates undead), but does it to a living target.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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The Manor, Issue #3
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2013 03:31:29
This is a charming throwback to the myriad fan-made 'zines that were around in the 1980s: coloured cardboard covers and appearing sporadically when ideas and funds permitted. Many gems were contained within their pages - and so is the case here.

The gem is the adventure, Mine of Rot and Disease, which is well-written and thoughtfully put together. An assortment of hooks are provided to get the characters involved, and once they are the adventure itself provides a good challenge to both brain and sword-arm, with the ever-present fear of disease being particularly well-handled. The inhabitants of the village threatened are excellent, they are brought to life by their descriptions and it's easy to make the characters actually care whether they live or die!

The mine itself is well mapped and populated with monsters and other challenges that are relevant and appropriate to what is going on. Illustrations are charmingly amateur and catch the flavour well; whilst the adventure text is clear and well-laid-out - far better than the opening 'Disclosuer' and unproofread Editorial had led me to expect!

Then there's another gem: a haiku! Illustrated with a delightful black dragon. Poetry is not often associated with gaming, but it works well... and after all, bards might like it.

Next, there's a delightful street vendor goblin, Pog Nog, to drop into your next urban scene. Complete with several adventure hooks to make him a lot more than a bystander but part of the plot, he's well described and will enhance some township well.

A couple of jokes later (one-liners that again could enhance a bard's repertoire or just make the table groan) there's a deity and associated cleric class for the Blood & Treasure RPG. It's nicely done but a bit over-powerful, you'll need to take care that it doesn't unbalance your game.

Overall, quite a delight!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #3
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The Manor, Issue #2
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2012 08:29:22
For those of you following at home, the short adventure included in Issue #1 of the Manor is what I used to kick off my sandboxie ACKS campaign about 2 months ago. In a week my party should be arriving at their destination, and I already see that I'll be using the latest issue of the Manor when they do.

Hugo's Healing Potions will most assuredly get used in my current campaign, maybe as soon as next week. I love the personalities that are presented, and the table of random customers / events can easily be used elsewhere (much like the Toys For the Sandbox series). When one article has multiple uses, you know it's damn good.

Smuggler's Inn has a unique hook. The setting local is unique too, and might require planning ahead to get the players there, but that's rarely a problem. Very interesting personalities here too, as well as a list of new magic items, one of which I think I have a player who would kill to get their hands on it. I may yoke that for a party quest at some point.

Strange Things You May Find Under the Cot is a random list of what you may find under the bed your are sleeping in in an Inn. Some of these "things" can turn into adventure seed in and of themselves.

Poetry Slam: Orc appears on the inside back cover, not the regular PDF. Let me explain. Tim has provided both a regular PDF version, and a "print out double sided and fold and staple" version, in case you want a physical version to love and to hold. The Orc poetry appears on the PDF for the cover, inside rear. Hope that's clearer now.

So far Tim is batting 2 for 2. Very impressive. (and I knew I recognized Matt Jackson's map work)

Almost forgot, the Manor is systemless, so it is easy to use with any Fantasy RPG system you are looking to use.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #2
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Knowledge Illuminates
by Brendan F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2012 06:47:02
For a low price you get a small, well-mapped and entirely playable dungeon environment, some exterior sites, a little background for the writer's campaign world and that's about your lot. Usable but unimpressive.

I have a more in-depth review of this adventure at http://knightsoftheblackbanner.blogspot.com/2012/02/knowledg-
e-illuminates-review.html

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
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Knowledge Illuminates
by matthew j. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2012 12:21:08
This first (of a proposed series) of One Shot Adventures from Tim Shorts I snagged and read over lunch one day and it, along with the other two products above, have spurred me on to start prepping my own OSR game. This 15 page adventure starts with a sort of sandbox set up with a small regional map with numerous ideas and fun bits that could keep a group running around for a few sessions with a teeny bit of fleshing out by the GM. Here is where we see one of my favorite parts of the entire product. Viz. I won't give up what it is because it will be a surprise to players, but man it is a great idea. A great idea that I will be stealing, thanks Tim. ;)


Once the players progress through the adventure the enter an eleven room dungeon for a well thought out and pretty spooky adventure. The creatures are tough and scary and presented in a great, clear way. What starts out as an everyday ordinary adventure and in the end comes up as a pretty unique and interesting adventure. Heck, Tim even includes a new spell, new monster and a new magic item. Very cool.


The adventure is story driven and every thing is in place for a reason, not just for a fight or treasure. It just all makes perfect sense. This is my sort of adventure and Tim has done a great job, this is one adventure I would certainly recommend.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2011 22:20:54
Knowledge Illuminates is the first module from GM Games and the kick-off for the author's One-Shot Adventure Series line. The module is written for 1st and 2nd level characters with a suggested maximum of 8 levels. Tim and Ivy were kind enough to send me a review copy, so let's get started!

Tim Shorts is a DM. I know this because I've read his module. It's always a pleasure to see a DM at work! :)

The module opens with introductory and background material, consisting of, amongst other things, an Alchemist's Doom, Marvelous Substances, a Dangerous Artifact and a Wicked, Metal Looking Demon! There are some cool ideas here, which can be expanded upon and used throughout a campaign. Some of these might readily be developed and become major focal points during the PC's careers. This material, along with several possible adventure hooks, sets the stage for the second and third parts of the module.

The adventure begins for the PC's, with an outdoor area to explore. The DM is provided with a keyed Hexmap, on a scale of 1 Hex = 1/4 Miles. A page of the module is devoted to presenting the Hexmap, which shows the features of the area, elevations and 7 keyed areas for the PC's to find. Hexcrawl time, baby!

Along with the Alchemist's Workshop they're looking for, the players will probably run into some monsters, interesting sites and find themselves some treasure, as they go about exploring the out-door area. There are opportunities for combat, as well as ways said combat might be avoided. Some of the encounters could turn a bit bloody and there's a possible encounter with an Ankheg, in particular, which I would expect to kill at least one character.

The aforementioned Alchemist's former Workshop will eventually be found and serves as the Dungeon for the adventure. It's accompanied by a map which is scaled 1 square = 5 feet. Again, a page is devoted to the presentation of the map and there is a second, smaller copy of the dungeon map on another page, which is handy and still big enough to be perfectly usable with my middle-aged eyes.

The dungeon is a short, straightforward affair, with 11 keyed areas. It's rather linear, but I think that's fine for a small dungeon. Tim gives us some traps, monsters, nasty tricks, cool dressing and a little bit of weirdness. Overall, our author makes good use of his dungeon and it should prove to be a lot of fun! Again, things are likely to get a little hairy (Undead, man! Undead!) and the players are going to have to be sharp. They will run across some magic items (some really cool arrows in particular) which should help them deal with the worst of it, if used judiciously. This section ends with a Concluding the Adventure wrap-up, which offers some suggestions for further developments.

The final and fourth section, lists new spells, creatures and magic items which the reader should find generally useful and there's some cool stuff here.

As mentioned above, the maps are by Robert Conley. For those not familiar with Mr. Conley's cartography, this means they're very, very good!

The text is two-columned and features a few drawings from The Forge Studios. Monster stats are in bluish shaded boxes and a few sections have additional advice for the DM, given in italics. I noticed one typo. I found the overall layout and design to be pleasing to my sensibilities. :)

The module instructs the DM to call for a Skill Check roll, at certain points and at the beginning of the module, Tim advises the reader to ignore these if he wishes. The DM will probably already have a way of handling this sort of thing and the usage implies, pretty much, how the Skill Check and associated Difficulty Level are to be utilized, but I would have appreciated a bit more information, regarding the author's intentions, here. A newbie DM might find himself at a loss, as to how to handle this.

The Cool, Metal-looking Demon mentioned above isn't a foe in this adventure, though he is described and his minions do show up. I still would have liked to see a Monster Block write-up for the fellow, because I like reading stats for Cool, Metal-looking Demons!

I enjoyed Knowledge Illuminates and if you're in the market for a low level/starter module, recommend picking it up! I think it'll prove to be quite fun to Run and will also be useful for ideas, inspiration and general reading pleasure! This is another PDF, which I'll be printing out. Congratulations Tim and I'm looking forward to your next release!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Illuminates
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/10/2011 19:05:05
Knowledge Illuminates is the first in a series of One Shot Adventures from Tim Shorts (of the blog Gothridge Manor). Written for Swords & Wizardry, but usable with any of the Old School rulesets, we are presented with a semi-sandbox that serves as a very nice campaign starter.

I call it a semi-sandbox, as the area map includes only the area local to the main encounter location, and there are no population centers on that map. So the GM will need to set the players upon the road to adventure. Thankfully, Tim has provided the GM with an assortment of interesting hooks to get the players involved in the story. It's a damn interesting story too.

Nice maps, great hooks, well written adventure. It's damn close to a home run. There's always a "but": but there's a handful of typos that spellchecking on the computer won't find, but are noticeable upon reading. As this is a PDF release, correcting it shouldn't be too big a deal, and it doesn't detract from an otherwise excellent adventure.

Actually, it is almost "rules lite" in nature, as it requires role play and thinking as much as, if not more, then roll play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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