||Octavirate Presents Vol. #1: The Gears of War is a monster supplement and NPC book from Octavirate Games. The zipped file is slightly less than six megabytes in size, and contains a single PDF. The PDF itself is twenty-eight pages long, with a page for the cover, a page for the credits/legal, and a page for the OGL. There is no table of contents, and perhaps oddly, the only bookmarks are for the cover, credits, and OGL.
The book has a decent amount of artwork, though it?s not overflowing with it by any means. The cover is a full-color work, and it?s reproduced later on in when the relevant character is discussed, but beyond that, the rest of the art here is black-and-white. Almost all of the art depicts the new monsters or NPCs being discussed. There are, however, color borders along the top and bottom of every page.
The Gears of War is divided into two separate but related parts. The first part deals with new monsters. In this case, we?re shown four new golems: the gear golem, the ballista golem, the catapult golem, and the ram golem. These latter three fall under a larger sub-category, that being that they?re all siege golems, and have several related abilities (such as they can be manually directed by a person riding on them). In true Octavirate fashion, alternate rules and supplemental information is presented in spades, with sections on alternative catapult ammunition (try throwing rotting corpses into your enemy?s food stores), alternate creation rules more in line with modern and future settings, along with related pricing and genre backgrounds for why such creatures exist at all. Clearly, Octavirate has not lost their touch in their time away from the gaming industry.
The second half of the book deals with specific characters. In this case, these are Dyzan Setclaar, a warmonger who is making the aforementioned golems, and his (unique) half-construct marilith Myrmdyia. After each NPCs stats are their variant rules stats (wound/vitality points, taint, sanity loss, etc.), followed by their background, appearance, personality, and tactics. Roughly a page is given to explaining the layout and tactics of Dyzan?s entire army, followed by stats and variant stats (though no fluff information) of the classed hobgoblins who make up his rank-and-file troops.
All in all, The Gears of War is a very solid work. Offering both generic monsters and specific NPCs was a very clever move on Octavirate?s part, and tying them together so neatly makes this an attractive package to drop into a campaign. Combined with the variant stats and information on using these monsters in other genres, there?s really no way this book wouldn?t work in any sort of d20 game. While there are a small number of very minor errors (Dyzan is a wizard/psion, so he should have the Psionic subtype), but these are so small that they?re virtually nonexistent. Likewise, the lack of a printer-friendly version isn?t too big a deal, given the small amount of artwork, and how most of it isn?t full-color. Altogether, there?s really no way your game wouldn?t benefit from The Gears of War.
LIKED: The mix of new monsters and NPCs is very nicely done, as they tie in together so well. And of course, the myriad variant rules and alternate genre information is truly inspiring in the way it shows off how this book can be used in virtually any sort of d20 game.
DISLIKED: The lack of a printer-friendly version may make printing this out something of a hassle for some people.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[5 of 5 Stars!]