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Esoteric Enterprises - Complete
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2019 22:04:10

EE is a powerhouse: not a single page is wasted, and every single one overflows with material. This is a book that knows what referees want and need and it delivers loads of creative monsters, magical items, grimoires, and a full-on megadungeon generator. Pick a page, any page and you will find something useful and / or inspiring.

I've seen books twice the length and five times the price with less than half the content. In terms of bang for buck, this one is a no brainer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Esoteric Enterprises - Complete
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The Gardens Of Ynn
by Laura A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2019 18:40:28

Ynn is a delight, it is very well thought out and my players are loving it! It is incredibly weird and wonderful and if you are looking for something to change t hings up or just inspirations. I was nervous about it being randomly generated but it is interesting how that actully creates interesting moments.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
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The Stygian Library
by David R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2019 16:24:17

This is a strange, clever and oddly beautiful book. Essentially a bizzare library generator, the descriptions are highly evocative and creative. You can get loads of ideas just from flicking through it.

It is intended to bo used at the table to create the environment on the fly, but I cheated and used it as a pre-generator as my group has a poor inactivity threshold.

Lots of lovely fantasy art from the early 20th century (copyright expired), I've discovered a few artists I hadn't heard of.

I've been using it in a USR adventure so I had to recreate the stats for that, but it wasn't hard. The players loved this part of the adventure and it certainly put them outside their comfort zone.

Emmy Allen/Cavegirl is one of the most imaginative and different RPG writers out there at the moment. I look forward to reading more of her stuff.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
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The Stygian Library
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2019 11:26:24

Excellent, eminently playable supplement. Loaded with atmosphere and imagination, this can be dropped easily into just about any game or campaign. The Library can function either as a brief side-quest or visit or be expanded into the site for a full adventure.

Would love to see a 5E conversion for the monsters, but that's a minor quibble. Tons to love here, and makes a great addition to any DMs toolkit.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
by Josh D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2019 18:20:48

I bought the POD copy (dont like PDFs) and am exceptionally happy with the content. The thing i liked the most about it was that it seems nearly plug and play into any campaign you're running. Is there a local alchemist in this town? They could know about the garden and once they trust the Characters... BAM - instant adventure.

I dont think I'd be smart enough to use this book and generate the gardens at the table, I'd be more likely to generate 5 to 10 pre-session, put them on an A4 sheet each then randomly select one when they go deeper.

I need to read it again, because I was not 100% sure how the "go deeper" mechanic worked narratively- are there meant to be hedge tunnels leading away on the sides/back of each garden that the players can just dash to? Either way though, it was a great read i consumed over 2 nights and want to include in my next game.

A few typos let the presentation down, but the content and tables were so good that I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants a few session adventure in an extra-dimensional garden. 9/10 so good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
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The Dolorous Stroke
by Robert S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2019 11:59:30

I was pleasantly surprise with layout and illustrations in Dolorous Stroke. The rules read very easily. It introduces cleaver ways of role playing in a table top wargame, making altercations become more than just about "the beat down". Players can really delve into their settings and characters.

My only negative (and its a big one) there are no scenarios...at all. the book tells you step by step how to build one but never presents you with some sort of pre scripted setting. I feel this would have given players a spring board form which they could build from. If anything it would give you a clear understanding how the game was meant to be played. This may not be in issue for some, but the first time I sat down to play I felt like to make the game come to life would be a chore.

There is a lot of good content for story building, but just no story pushing me to use the combat system over over another I'm more familiar and comfortable with. I give The Dolorous Stroke a 3 out of 5

Side note: I'd be more than happy to return to this system if the publisher/designer were to write a story expansion.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Dolorous Stroke
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The Stygian Library
by Steven E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2019 06:37:45

Quite simply one of the best, most usable supplements I've ever purchased. Room-by-room dungeon generators that are detailed enough to be fleshed out, yet rapid enough to be used at the table on the fly, are extremely rare, and this one works a treat. Its theming is incredibly cohesive and manages to strike a fine balance between whimsy and grimness that so many OSR products seem to miss: dark, but not too dark; funny, but not too funny; complementary tendencies that help create a unique tone. Well worth the asking price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
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The Stygian Library
by Dylan A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2019 21:11:11

[TL;DR - If you liked Gardens of Ynn, just go buy this right now]

The Method

Library uses the same "flowchart generation" mechanic as Gardens of Ynn did. The library's layout starts from scratch on every visit. When the players enter, the DM rolls for a location, a detail that modifies it and an encounter with a strange inhabitant. From there, the players backtrack or Go Deeper to discover the next location. Progressing further into the Library opens up stranger vistas as the tables are modified by your Depth score (the number of rooms you have progressed from the entrance). Lurking in the shallows gets you help desks and reading rooms, while high Progress scores reveal dissection theatres, jarred brain storage and infernal gateways.

Using the same system as before allows us to take a more objective look at Library. Since it doesn't have the same the rip-your-dick-off feeling one gets when looking at a completely new and fresh idea, I can focus on the content of the adventure and how it all hangs together without spending all my time extolling its innovations.

What's Inside

Emmy can really go the extra mile in filling out a module. The locales and descriptions cover anything and everything you could want in a library. In addition to the ever-present bookshelves we have catalogues, display cases, storage vaults, printing machines, phantom storage and the dreaded Sheol Computer!

The 'descriptions' section adds the interest and replayability to exploration in the Library. It's one thing to delve a dungeon with a changing layout, quite another when the rooms have different properties every time. Again these are really good: silent, negligible gravity, too small, too large, semi-corporeal and time-locked are a few examples.

Rather than filled with desolate, rotted grandeur like Gardens, The Stygian Library feels lived-in. The librarians (little jawa-like robed figures of 5 different orders - red, yellow, black, gray and white) guard vital areas or putter around, fixing things and attending to emergencies. Researchers and university students wander through. Occasionally a demon shows up to bargain for your soul. Even the random encounter tables change based on the PCs' actions!

The FORTY-piece bestiary is my second favourite part of this module. It ranges from hungry books and dust moths to ink-elementals and neurovores (renamed Mind Flayers). Such a comprehensive list feels like a callback to the style of Red & Pleasant Land: a complete OSR crawl setting in a single book. You could probably run an entire campaign in the Library and (although your players might tire of the scenery) you'd never run out of foes.

While it might be possible to fight everything, it's not exactly the spirit of the module. You're just as likely to be drawn into a conversation with the skeleton cleaning-crew or some talking mice. In this respect the feel is similar to Gardens, which bore the fairy-tale legacy of R&PL quite distinctively.

And the tables! Even if you never run this module, $4 for the pdf is justified by these alone: Types of Books, Extraordinary Books, Treasure, Magic Weapons & their Properties, Rumors, Dreams & Portents... fuck me man. This is what I want to see in a damned OSR product. All the entries are interesting and imaginative, starting from the basics and spreading outwards into bizarre stuff (the extraordinary books especially can change your PCs' lives forever).

Progress

So the PCs want information. Where do they go, the local sage? The church? A book club? Wikipedia?

To the Stygian Library! Wherein, an abstracted 'progress system' is included for tracking how close the PCs are to their informational goals. Speaking to the inhabitants about related topics, learning more about the library's layout (such as it is) and finding relevant books will all increase your progress score, which starts equal to the highest INT score in the group and must reach a certain number based on the obscurity of the information sought (20 is basic information in most libraries, 40 is something heretofore undiscovered).

This is a good idea, but I wonder how I would describe this to my players - "You feel closer to your goal"? "You're on the right track"? It's a somewhat dissociated mechanic. The PCs have no choice but to move through the dungeon and hope for encounters/loot that could increase their progress score, rather than analyzing the environment and deciding on their next move.

I suppose that's really my only complaint about this module - procedural generation removes an element of choice. I feel like we're treading into some sort of bizarre double-blind quantum ogre territory here. The players can't plan or make informed decisions, because there is nothing to plan for until the next room is rolled up.

On the other hand, this is ameliorated by the Library being such a sociable place. Instead of learning geographical & tactical information about the layout of the dungeon (a normal exploration-based method), the players interact with the inhabitants to learn about the social landscape, faction allegiances and the rules (social or uh, metaphysical) which govern the place.

Conclusion

Will I use this in my game? Hell yes. Few people are doing this kind of fantasy in the OSR and I'd rather have more modules like this than another grimdark excursion. (I can do those myself anyway). I will throw in some new rooms, monsters and treasures specific to my campaign but I'm sure anybody would.

One final caveat: like Ynn, prolonged adventuring in this region could have long-lasting repercussions throughout your game world. Plan your trips accordingly!

[This review is based only on the PDF version.]

Originally posted at: https://terriblesorcery.blogspot.com/2019/06/review-stygian-library.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2019 12:12:31

Normally I would give it a five. But I bought the printed copy, without reading the pgf. While I did love the information, and the pictures were nice, the print is way too small. I had to use my magnifying glass to read it. Surely for the price they could have added a few more pages, or increased the dimentions of the book so it had a more reasonable tyoe size.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
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The Gardens Of Ynn
by Itai G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2019 16:03:33

I love OSR. It's not exactly what I thought going in, because it's a not a map or a dungeon crawler exactly. You might say it's just a random dungeon generator, and you'll be write. But it's very well written.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow - Revised PDF
by Trey M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2019 15:00:56

A well thought out OSR look at life at the edge of the big ice- its lovingly crafted, with supplementary info on adding some old school eldritch horror and magic to your taste. The core is very kin to DnD style systems, and the magic system is decidedly Vancian - my only grief was the lack of a shamanic/priest /spiritual system to supplement the proto mage part. Highly recommended for all it does have though.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow - Revised PDF
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The Gardens Of Ynn
by Joseph R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2019 23:04:25

Well written and refreshing setting. I tried adding this to my current game and had so much fun with the options and it inspired a good night of adventures that could extend for a LONG time! Highly recommended for any setting or campaign that could use a somewhat lighter touch now and again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
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The Gardens Of Ynn
by todd p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/12/2019 22:04:11

extraordinarily well written. an amazing adventure. many people have been able to utilize language in a much better way than me to convey just how great this is, so instead of like, throwing words at a weed wacker for 45 min i'll just kind of like ahh, prematurely end here. but it truly... truly.. is amazing.

my only complaint, and i hate to nitpick, but, the cover is pixelated, it's as if there was a slight mismatch between the digital cover resolution and the printer (the printer can clearly print a higher resolution, as the ISBN/barcode font is perfect). i think somehow this might be fixable. the book is so amazing i seriously feel horrible complaining about it and i think i'm breaking out in hives right now as a result. if the author wrote this entire book out on a stack of paper towels and then mailed it to me, i would still give it 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
by William D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2018 01:34:25

This adventure is fantastic. It absolutley drips with atmosphere and a coherent theme while maintaining an ease of use that's inviting to veteran players and newbies alike. The simplicity of use and the efficiency in which they are presented are showcased throughout. There is no wasted space or pretense while ideas are conveyed in a clear and concise manner. Take note, this should be the standard for writing adventures



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardens Of Ynn
by Carter R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2018 17:07:19

Very imaginative and inspiring. This abandoned garden is surreal and haunting. Great stuff for an exploration adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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