I received a comp PDF of this product to review.
When I’m designing adventures, I find the statistics take the most time: NPC stats and any new magic I want to throw at my players. I can come up with a scenario and I have plenty of maps. But the mechanical stuff takes a lot of time.
So when I had the chance to check out Troglodytes I jumped at the chance. Here is a nice handy PDF filled with statted monsters, new magic items, and a few other new mechanical bits, all connected with decent story bits. Tying the fantasy amphibians and reptiles together is Lovecraft horror, a delightful squamous mix. In fact, Troglodytes came across like a focused issue of Dragon from the old print days which to me is a great thing.
Of the twenty pages, four and a half are title pages, intro info, and OGL. There are two half pages of decent art. The rest is rules and roleplaying bits along with a table of contents. Included in those two and a half pages are some useful tables of the new mechanics as well as a descriptive paragraph and a poem. Anything well written that includes the word gibbous always grabs my attention: “Emerging on fog‐shrouded nights when a sullen, gibbous moon hangs low in the sky the troglodytes raise their croaking voices to the ebon heavens in terrible, half‐forgotten rites of veneration to unknown, elder beings.” Yeah, that’s cool.
The troglodytes get two pages of ecology including religion and tribal body art. They also get a new demonic god complete with a holy text called the Amoninomicon. These troglodytes are bloodthirsty violent savages.
Next up is a page of battle feats unique to the tribe which help with moving through difficult terrain in caverns, getting some spell-like dark powers, and killing people even more violently with claws. All the feats fit the theme of the savage tribe. Two alternative class features help turn the fighter into a tunnel fighter and the barbarian into an unarmored savage. My PDF had a typo that had me scratching my head for a moment: the feat reads when armored instead of when unarmored but I figured it out.
Following feats is a page of spells. Weight of ages is a nice use of aging rules that otherwise might not see much use. I liked these spells and could see the troglodytes using them to wither their foes.
Two potent intelligent magic items follow, both of use really only to the tribe. Destroying these foul weapons could be an adventure in itself. Both weapons are named and have personalities and backgrounds of their own.
A random encounter chart lists four different possible encounters with the Ebon Lake tribe. ELs start at 4 and end at 10.
The description of each encounter includes a way to modify the EL up or down one. This info gives twelve possible encounters. A description explains what the creatures are up to, which is a great guide for the GM.
Eleven fully statted creatures follow, including warriors, chieftain, shamans, and the unnatural leader of the trogs. A template is included as well. The stat blocks are well organized and easy to follow.
In addition to stat blocks, many of the creatures have backgrounds and tactics listed as well to aid in roleplaying the villains in and out of combat. As would be expected, the warriors are not subtle combatants and are crazed killers fighting to the death in most cases. They eat fallen human foes.
The template creates a degenerate creature. The example is a degenerate troglodyte possessed of savage brutality. It inflicts increased damage with natural weapons used in melee.
A handy stat block for regular trogs ends the PDF. Included are notes on adding to base stats when adding class levels. A handy reminder.
This PDF delivers exactly what a time-pressed GM needs. Eleven plus bloodthirsty Ebon Lake tribe-troglodytes and their slimy leader armed with dark magic and possessed of terrible bloodlust and violence. If you want to save several hours of statting up a tribe of trogs, get this PDF. The information provided could be reused easily, so a campaign featuring many trogs could get a lot of mileage out of this PDF. The descriptions are also inspiring and add quite a bit to how I pictured the Ebon Lake Tribe in my mind’s eye.