First off, when Dylan told me he was writing an entire book about spiders, I was a little nervous. I thought it might get monotonous. Creating an adventure out of just spiders, I wasn't sure how that was going to work out. Wow, I was pleasantly surprised. And doff my Steelers hat in his general direction.
Before I go further, I want to say something about the man behind the spiders. Dylan has been producing some very cool and interesting adventures for the OSR for, I think, two or more years now. I've got a copy of each and every one. I think he is one of the hidden talents within an expanding interest in old school gaming. I say hidden because I don't think he gets the notoriety he deserves. His work is always clean and crisp, interesting and fun and Dylan has a distinct style so his adventures and products are different from anyone else's you'll find out there.
To the review, The Big Book of Spiders is much different from Dylan's other offerings. Besides being focused on spiders, there is a very cool narrative that runs through the book. And as your reading it, you realize you are the one in the narrative speaking about the book your holding in your hand. Dylan executes this like a professional hit man, cool and calm.
The first section of the book is a mini monster manual that focuses on all the devious species of spiders. Again, you might think there would be some redundancy, but I am here to report that every entry is distinct. There are 24 spiders for you to use in your adventures. And the fact is, I used one of the spiders for an adventure I wrote for The Manor #6. I read the entry and knew just where to put the creepy little guy.
The second section is spells & equipment. A close look at marketable resources that a spider produces such as silks and poisons. Regular items and magic items with a spider theme. I think I may have to add some of the items into one of my stores. A fence for a thieves guild and the fence has a thing for spiders. That would be cool. And if you need only one reason to get TBBoS it's this, SPIDER GOLEM! Tell me that doesn't give you an OSR chubby.
It's an interesting concept and I'd have to see it in play. A spinner could be the ultimate thief sub-class.
Part four is a short adventure where your goal is to DESTROY a spider cult. Again, the book you hold in your hand plays a big part in the adventure. Dylan sets up the situation, describes the rooms, but its up the GM to run it. No training wheels here. The maps are well done. Just a suggestion though, go the bathroom before you run the adventure or you might get a little paranoid sitting upon the porcelain throne.
And the final section is a few riddles that Dylan is so fond of. I'm even part of an answer to a riddle I got wrong. I suck at the riddles.
You get a lot of bang for your bucks in this offering. I am really surprised how much he squeezed in. If you want a print offering, you'll need to hop...or what ever spiders do...now I have to look it up...hydraulic pressure?...that doesn't sound right...hydraulic over to Dylan's blog, Digital Orc and you'll find the Paypal button ($4.99) beneath his video presentation. Or if you use a tablet, e-reader, or I'm to good for actual books kinda guy that will only read PDFs ($3.99) then head over to RPGNow and grab The Big Book of Spiders.