October has finally arrived, and as the 4e GSL goes live the first of the 3rd party support products for the new 4e GSL have started to appear on the market. As can be expected both old and new publishers are signing up to the 4e GSL, and one such new publisher is One Bad Egg. Their first product is called Races of the Shroud: The Apelord, and presents a new PC race, several racial feats for said race, new monsters based on this race, and several adventure and campaign ideas related to the race and the Shroud, a mysterious mutating fog that covers the land.
The product comes as two pdf files - one detailing the Shroud and giving a brief campaign idea involving it, and the second presenting the apelord race, racial feats and monsters. I have to admit that things have come a long way in the industry since the OGL was released years back, and the quality of presentation and material on offer from new publishers is on another level compared to the early OGL offerings. This product is very well presented and formatted, with a clear layout, good and imaginative writing, and some wonderful pieces of full color art. The product looks good and professional, and I hope that this style of presentation continues despite the natural rush to get products on the market. One Bad Egg have delivered on a good presentation.
This product presents a new PC race, the apelord, a race of intelligent apes that have been changed by the mysterious power of the Shroud. Much like one would expect, this race is good at climbing, good a falling down from trees and other heights, and good at using its fist to batter things into submission. Basically, if you want a very playable PC race that's, well, an intelligent gorilla, then this is exactly what you need. The product provides plenty of information on the apelord race, from descriptions to habits to community and other social aspects. In addition, some useful details on a few apelord adventurers are provided (without statistics) and applicable names and general naming conventions. I thought this was a well done race which catches the flavor of the race well in the mechanics and implements a sound and playable race that can make for an interesting change. It's not the most novel or even interesting race I've ever seen, but it's been well implemented and detailed.
For me at least, and most likely for the DMs and not the players, this product doesn't shine so much with the race but more with the new monsters based on the apelord race. There are some really useful and interesting new monsters, particularly the bunch of corrupted undead apelords and the apelord speaker. The minor apelords are mostly standard fare, but for the higher level creatures (creatures range from levels 4 to 9) the product does an impressive job of coming up with unique and interesting abilities for the monsters to use. The apelord speaker, for example, has an ability to call a spirit to assist it, and this is clever and versatile at the same time as flavorful. The monsters are generally creative and well done, and worth challenging your players with.
For those interested in reskinning monsters, these monster abilities can be used for a variety of other concepts and creatures. I have to wonder how long it's going to take for the first generic monster book to come out, that only contains flavor and descriptions along with special abilities and no actual normal combat statistics to create a paradise for those interested in modifying monsters. The product concludes with some creative adventure ideas and hooks which tie all the material in the pdf together nicely.
Overall I thought this was a very good product. It contains some very useful new material, good flavor and good implementation of mechanics and concepts. Players and DMs who don't like animal/human hybrids can still find plenty of use in this product through the monsters provided and the details of the Shroud along with its associated campaign ideas and adventure hooks. The monsters in particular are enjoyable with some innovative new ideas and attacks developed for these creatures. While this material is applicable to any campaign setting, something African would likely fit very well with the concepts and the ideas presented. A good little pdf.
[4 of 5 Stars!]